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If your corn and soybean crops are planted but are struggling to emerge in crusted over soils, now what do you do?

Ken Ferrie says there are three options to consider right now:

  1. Leave them alone
  2. Break out a rotary hoe
  3. Consider replanting

Ferrie details using a rotary hoe and weighing replant decisions – focused on Illinois fields – during this week’s Boots In The Field podcast. This podcast is one you really need to listen to for the finer details of his directions. The podcast is only 9 minutes and is packed with good insights and recommendations.

Don’t Delay Using A Rotary Hoe. Go Now.

A lot of planted corn and soybeans were saved in Illinois fields last week, thanks to the use of rotary hoes, he says.

However, the window for using a hoe to save crops is closing because the ground is drying out and the soil surface is turning dry and hard.

Ferrie says he had several calls earlier this week from farmers who didn’t hoe and are now seeing crops struggle to emerge. While many of these fields are probably past the point where a rotary hoe will do much good, Ferrie says he would still give it a try.

“Most likely, you’re going to need to run that hoe twice to get through the field,” he says. “We can also use our corn planters, if we’re done with them, as a more aggressive hoe.” 

Set out some flags in a defined area of the field for evaluation. Set the flags fairly deep, so the hoe won’t pull them out of the ground.

Next, decide how many plants you think you can help in that area by running the hoe versus how many plants that are emerged and don’t need help.

“Run the hoe through, check between those flags, and see if the numbers are improved. Then turn around and run the hoe through the field a second time and see if the numbers keep improving,” Ferrie says. 

“Work with actual numbers. Look for how many (plants) you’re improving versus how many you’re taking out,” he adds.

Some Fields Will Need Replanting
Focus right now on corn, as you still have a little time to make decisions on soybeans. You can take a lot of the emotion out of the decision by basing it on real numbers, using your stand count and projected ear count.

“Take these two numbers to our replant tool on our web page to make the best estimate on how many bushels per ear you think are possible. Use the upper end of the range for your flex hybrids and use the lower end of the range for your determinant hybrids,” he says.

Access Crop-Tech’s replant tool.

Bear in mind those corn plants that are more than one collar behind neighboring plants will count only as stand – not as ear count. “They will go against your ear count because the more stand you have, the fewer bushels per ear you’re going to be able to get,” Ferrie says. 

As you plug numbers into the calculator, you’ll need to include such things as termination cost, your expected yield and your price for corn. You’ll also need to enter in what the actual replanting date is going to be for each specific field. Then add in your stand and your ear count numbers to project bushels per ear. The directions are on the calculator and easy to follow.

With today’s corn prices, Ferrie says the replant decision will likely be a lot different than what you’re used to in previous years.

“With $4.50 corn, replanted on May 23, you’re at about a break even at 24,500 ears,” Ferrie says. “With $7 corn, that’s going to push that replant breakeven number up closer to 26,500 to 27,000 ears depending on how much flex you have in your hybrid.”

One caution: Ferrie is adamant that you will do yourself a disservice if you choose to thicken existing corn stands by planting more seed into them. “You need to tear out the old stand and start over,” he says.

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