April 21, 2003 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Agronomists at the University of Kentucky, along with Extension agents for agriculture and natural resources in eight Kentucky counties, are conducting field trials in corn that could make planting more convenient for farmers.

“Farmers have a lot to do and a lot of fields to cover,” said Chad Lee, UK Extension grain crops specialist. “We would love to find a way for them to plant corn early without compromising yield.”

The goal of the early planting study is to determine if a polymer coating on corn will delay plant emergence in the field. If it works, a farmer could plant early, even when the weather is not ideal and the corn would wait until the temperatures and conditions are right for germination and growth.

Corn was planted in Lexington March 17 and April 3. A final planting date is scheduled for late April or early May. Normally corn is not planted around Lexington until April 15 to May 15.

Lee said two corn hybrids were planted and the polymer-coated seed is being compared to uncoated seed for each hybrid.

Field trials also are underway in Shelby, Jefferson, Crittenden, Monroe, Graves, Ballard, Hardin and Hopkins counties. Rod Grusy, Hardin County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said planting began in his county around April 1. 

“When we started on April 1, we planted coated and uncoated seed in side-by-side plots,” he said. “The soil temperature then was around 52 degrees and after that it went down below 50 degrees.”

Grusy said when he checked the plots on April 10, the uncoated corn had 3/8-inch root growth, but the coated corn had no germination. Grusy believes that is a good indication the coating is doing its job.

“With the size of grain farms in central Kentucky only getting bigger, farmers need to plant early to get it all done,” he said. “If the coating works, it will extend the window of opportunity farmers have to plant.”

Grusy said it also will be interesting to see how the trials turn out around the state since there are so many different soil types and conditions.

Corn research and new technologies will be a big part of the 2003 Crop and Soil Sciences Field Day on June 12 at UK’s Spindletop Research Farm on Iron Works Pike in Lexington. Participants will have an opportunity to learn how to control weeds in corn and find out what is new in corn silage production. For more information about the field day visit the web site athttp://www.uky.edu/Ag/GrainCrops/2003_Field_Day.htmor contact your county Extension agent.


Chad Lee  859-257-7610