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Planting corn spring 2022
Dr. Victor Martin

As of March 15, most of Barton and part of Stafford County have moved from severe to extreme drought and drought ranging from moderate to exceptional has enveloped the western two-thirds of the state. The most recent precipitation will help but won’t really change our drought status much. The six to ten-day outlook (March 22 to 26) indicates near normal temperatures and precipitation. That could help the wheat to hang on and as of today most of the area wheat crop is at best holding on. The eight to 14-day outlook (March 24 to 30) indicates a 33 to 40% chance of above normal temperatures and 40 to 50% leaning below normal for precipitation. If the outlook holds true, it will present challenges for dryland corn. So what should area dryland corn producers consider.  

First, what are dryland corn producers in this area looking at as they head toward corn planting in a few short weeks?

• Moderate to exceptional drought and little subsoil moisture. So even if the area receives several inches of rain in the next few weeks, that will quickly be used up through evaporation and some by the crop. And the long-term outlook from mid-April through August is predicting temperatures well-above normal and well-below normal precipitation. Certainly this can change but these forecasts are typically pretty accurate.

• Input prices are high very high, as has been discussed previously. Fertilizer, pesticides, seed, fuel, and other costs have risen dramatically. Inflation in these areas have far exceeded the rate of inflation consumers are experiencing. And add in the labor shortages affecting all sectors of the economy are also hitting the ag sector resulting in higher wages coupled with shortages of needed inputs and machinery.

• High prices for commodities such as coarse and cereal grains, and oil seed costs. This is due to several factors. Overall demand is up and that is one factor. Another is the war in Ukraine. Ukraine is a major exporter of grains and oilseed crops. They are the number one exporter of sunflowers. We have a demand/supply situation causing high commodity prices coupled with concern for the 2022 crop. With the above factors, what can a 2022 dryland corn producer in our area do?

• Minimize or even eliminate tillage to conserve what moisture is there. Leave as much residue on the surface as possible to minimize evaporation and moderate summer soil temperatures.

• Weed control will matter more than ever to conserve moisture and nutrients. Pest control in general will be critical. It costs money but it matters.

• Determine your population and realistic yield goal, determine your soil nutrient status, for nutrients like P and N consider subsurface banding and for N surface banding (dribbling).

• Depending on your typical population, back of by ten to twenty percent. And if possible select a shorter season hybrid while planting as early as practical. Yes, this may sacrifice yield compared to higher populations and a longer season hybrid in a typical good year but if the outlook holds you are more likely to obtain an economically viable crop.

• Consider grain sorghum as the price is good, the market is good, and you are more likely to harvest an acceptable crop with its drought tolerance.

• Pray for rain, lots of rain.  

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or