Spring scramble: Some growers have run out of heat units to drop to

For several weeks the message has been that growers need be adjusting their corn variety heat units based on late planting. For some growers, it has become too difficult to drop much further based on hybrid availability in certain heat unit ranges.

RealAg Agronomist Peter Johnson recognizes the challenge. “As you move into the lower heat unit areas, there just aren’t hybrids available to just drop 300 CHU. It’s a real challenge for farmers, retailers, and seed companies,” he says.

Many of the lower heat unit varieties are the same as what is planted in parts of Quebec and Western Canada and those areas are already planted putting a major strain on shorter-season options. Seed companies have production plans that are set 12-18 months out from a farmer planting so this kind of spring is almost impossible to plan for, Johnson says.

Dan Foster, national marketing manager for PRIDE Seeds, says, “We are definitely planting into ‘calendar fit’ ground now and not agronomist fit. Hybrid choice is really going to be the grower’s comfort level and end-use goals. If you have your own dryer, planting a 2800 CHU in a 3000 CHU area may be fine, for example.” If you have to commercial dry, you may want to mix it up a bit more if you can get some shorter-day corn, he says.

“This has for sure been one of the toughest springs as it is wide spread and not just one area, so everyone has been doing their best to fill orders and move seed,” Foster says.

For the growers that drop out of a satisfactory heat unit range the decision will quickly flip to planting soybeans instead. Due to the fact soybeans are daylight sensitive there is still time because the plant will adjust, but yield expectations should also be adjusted lower.

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