Mistakes made during crop establishment are usually irreversible, and can put a ceiling on a crop's yield potential before the corn plants have even emerged. The following are some proven practices that will help get a corn crop off to a good start.
1. Perform tillage operations only when necessary and under the proper soil conditions. Avoid working wet soil and reduce secondary tillage passes. Perform secondary tillage operations only when necessary to prepare an adequate seedbed. Shallow compaction created by excessive secondary tillage can reduce crop yields. Deep tillage should only be used when a compacted zone has been identified and soil is relatively dry. Late summer and fall are the best times of year for deep tillage.
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2. Complete planting by early May. The recommended time for planting corn in northern Ohio is April 15 to May 10 and in southern Ohio, April 10 to May 10. However if soil conditions are dry and soil temperatures are rising fast (and the five-to-seven-day forecast calls for favorable conditions), start planting before the optimum date. During the two to three weeks of optimal corn planting time, there is, on average, only one out of three days when fieldwork can occur. Avoid early planting on poorly drained soils or those prone to ponding. Yield reductions resulting from "mudding the seed in" are often much greater than those resulting from a slight planting delay. In 2011 and 2012, many Ohio growers observed that later-planted corn yielded better than early corn due to unusually favorable rainfall and temperature conditions in late July and August.