Yield potential typically is greatest in Indiana when corn is planted by May 10, but tillage, soil fertility and mid-summer rainfall and temperatures are among many other factors that influence yield.

"By itself, delayed planting isn't a sure path to lower yields," Nielsen says.

Farmers in 2009, for example, had planted only 20% of the crop by late April because of wet conditions, yet their yield at harvest was 9% above trend.

But if farmers can't get into their fields by mid- to late May, they might have to decide whether to plant hybrid seeds other than they originally planned. The switch would be to a hybrid that would take less time to mature so the crop could be harvested before the threat of an autumn killing freeze. The tradeoff for them, however, is that such earlier-maturing seeds might not yield as much grain and, consequently, not as much income.

Get more detailed information on what farmers would need to consider if they are seriously delayed in planting corn.

Weather conditions in early May aren't crucial for soybeans since many farmers plant their corn ahead of soybeans. Planting of soybeans, therefore, also could be delayed. Soybean farmers usually are at the early stages of planting at this point, with nearly half of the crop planted by May 20. Planting can extend well into June.

Still, eventually soybean farmers, too, will depend on the weather for favorable conditions so they can do their job.

"Just because it's a day in a workweek doesn't mean you can get out in the fields to work," says Shaun Casteel, Purdue Extension soybean specialist. "A person working in an office goes to work rain or shine. Not so for farmers."


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