Farmers in the northeast have enjoyed a break in the wet weather. The past 10 days have brought warmer, drier conditions. For some, it was an opportunity to get additional corn in the ground. For those unable to plant corn, the window of opportunity for the crop has closed.
“You really shouldn’t be planting corn after the Fourth of July,” said Cornell Cooperative Extension Senior Extension Resource Educator of Agronomy, Aaron Gabriel. “Sometimes you can be successful planting corn for silage until July.”
Gabriel recommends choosing a long-season hybrid to get fodder, or a very short-season hybrid to get developed ears at harvest and increase the seeding population.
And for farmers with corn populations at less than 16,000 plants per acre, it may need to be tilled under and replanted. Farmers that lost crops from early rains or who didn’t have an opportunity to plant fields, Gabriel offersed options worth considering.
First, consider contacting your crop insurance agent. “Crop insurance is complicated and has a lot of rules,” Gabriel said. “Sometimes you can plant a cover crop and till it under, but you can’t plant an alternative crop for harvest if the insured crop is a loss. So it’s best to contact your agent.”
Another alternative is to plant later growing high-quality haylage crops. For example, BMR sorghum-sudan can be planted through early July. Cornel Cooperative Extension has published a fact sheet featuring the crop.
A mixture of BMR sorghum-sudan and cowpeas and also be planted through July. “Cowpea seeds are a starchy grain, high in protein. But they have trypsin inhibitors that reduce protein digestion,” he said. “So, grow long-season varieties to make fodder, not grain.”
Or BMR sorghum-sudan and soybeans are an additional option that also must be planted in early July. “Soybeans make fair silage due to high fiber and lower palatability,” he said.
Teff is also a good fine-stemmed summer grass that can be planted in early July. Cornell Cooperative Extension also offers a fact sheet for this grass.
When planting pushes into early August, Gabriel recommends a mixture of oats and field pea or regular sorghum for a one-cut fall harvest.
The weather has certainly been frustrating, but there may be good news for those who have to buy grains. “The outlooks for the US corn and soybean crops are decent,” Gabriel said. “Do not expect high grain prices.”
It may also be a good time to talk to buyers about buckwheat and inquire about getting a contract. “It’s a tricky crop to grow and harvest,” he cautioned.
While planting may not have gone according to plan this year, you can focus on building soil health for future crops. Buckwheat, sorghum-sudan, cowpeas or native weeds are all good choices, but don’t let them go to seed. “Use this opportunity to grow a cover crop to improve soil health,” Gabriel suggested.