Thomison, Prochaska and Robert Mullen, OSU Extension's soil fertility specialist, agree that this year's conditions require growers to reassess their planting strategies and consider adjustments that will expedite crop establishment.

"Although the penalty for late planting is important, care should be taken to avoid tillage and planting operations when the soil is wet," Thomison says. "Yield reductions resulting from mudding the seed in are usually much greater than those resulting from a slight planting delay. Yields may be reduced somewhat this year due to delayed planting, but effects of soil compaction can reduce yield for several years to come."

That's why it's important to keep time spent on tillage passes and other preparatory operations to a minimum, as they will provide few benefits if they result in further planting delays. Ohio State experts agree that no-till or stale seedbed may offer the best option for planting on time this year, with field seedbed preparation limited to leveling ruts that may have been left by the previous year's harvest. Most newer planters, they sayd, provide relatively good seed placement in crusted seedbeds.

Farmers may also need to rethink fertilization strategies. If the original plan was to apply nitrogen (N) pre-plant, growers should consider alternatives so that planting is not delayed any further once field conditions improve. Although application of anhydrous N is usually recommended prior to April 15 in order to minimize potential injury to emerging corn, anhydrous N may be applied as close as a week before planting, unless hot, dry weather is predicted.

"In late-planting seasons associated with wet, cool soil conditions, growers should consider side-dressing anhydrous N (or UAN liquid solutions) and applying a minimum of 30 lbs./N broadcast or banded to stimulate early seedling growth," Thomison says. "This approach will allow greater time for planting. Similarly, crop requirements for phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) can often be met with starter applications placed in bands two inches to the side and two inches below the seed. Application of P and K is only necessary with the starter if they are deficient in the soil, and the greatest probability of yield response from P and K starter is in a no-till situation."