The only agronomic issue at this point besides the ongoing concern about whether the weather pattern will change for the worse is whether there is enough soil moisture to allow seeds to germinate. This is a particular concern in fields where soils were tilled some time ago and where the lack of rain has meant that surface soil has continued to dry.
“Whether to plant into dry soil with the idea that seeds will germinate quickly once it rains is a common issue in late May with soybeans, but not in early April with corn,” explained Nafziger. Corn seed needs to take up less water than soybean seed to emerge. If soils stay relatively dry, corn seeds tend to stay viable even if the weather is too cool or too dry for emergence.
“It’s probably not a good idea to till again to try to bring up moisture; that could result in uneven distribution of soil moisture down the row, causing unevenness in emergence, which can reduce yields,“ he said. “Soils in most tilled fields are already fairly fine by now, even after only one tillage pass, and more tillage would lead to more soil moisture loss and would add to the risk of crust formation after heavy rain.”
So -- it looks as if, in 2012, the corn crop planting is on course to be the earliest ever, assuming that the current weather pattern continues. Concerns related to the possibility of deteriorating weather conditions diminish with each day. Planting should accelerate over the next week. With luck, including getting some rain in the coming weeks, the crop will be off to a good start.
For now, the focus should be on getting corn planted first. Recent data show good yields from planting soybeans in April, and if they can be planted under good conditions, there is little need to wait until May to start to plant soybeans.