Crop Management - Corn
- Planting crops early ensures maximum time for crop growth and maturity. This allows for planting full-season corn hybrids instead of shorter season hybrids with lower yield potential. Fields will be ready for planting corn in late April in Massachusetts when the soil is dry enough so as not to cause soil compaction from farm equipment.
- Increase corn seeding rate to at least 30,000+ seeds/acre. Both grain yield and total tonnage will be increased, the latter more so.
- Test your soil and save money by eliminating P & K fertilizers on high testing fields, including starter fertilizer, especially if fields have a manure application history.
- Do not apply N fertilizer at planting. Plan manure usage so as to spread on most fields rather than fewer fields. Maximize the N value of manure by incorporating on the same day it is applied. Use the pre-sidedress soil test described on p 5.
- Harvest on time, but not before corn is fully mature, so as to maximize energy value in silage. Plant a rye cover crop by Sept. 15 to conserve N left over after the corn.
- Timely harvest (late May) of the first cut, optimizes yield and quality, reducing the need for as much grain supplement, and allows for at least two additional hay harvests.
- If possible harvest first crop as haylage. Poor weather in early summer often reduces hay quality.
- When raking, tedding or turning a haycrop take care not to cause excessive leaf drop. The drier the hay gets the more gently it needs to be handled. The loss of leaves, especially legumes (most easily lost), greatly lowers nutritional value.
- Bring (round) bales inside or cover to protect from weather decay.
- Use manure (surplus to the corn crop) on hayfields to reduce fertilizer expense. Spread first on grass fields, then legume hayfields including alfalfa at approx. 20 to 30 tons/acre.
Alternative Crops & Supplements
- On hayfields with declining or no summer productivity, take the first hay cutting, then consider planting a cereal (oat) or brassica (turnip, rape or kale for sheep and beef producers) to produce more harvestable forage or to extend the grazing season.
Stephen J. Herbert
Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Crops, Dairy, Livestock News. Vol. 1:1, Mar. 1996
Last updated: 3/15/05.