In South Dakota in case you haven’t been around the last few months or so we have had some pretty interesting weather.
No joke, one day it was snowy, rainy, snowy, sunny all within an afternoon. Crazy right?
Last year I remember being in the hospital in labor and we were over half way done with planting. That was around April 14.
I don’t know if any farmer would really call planting this week “late” planting. But, it is planting out of the “norm” for the last few years.
What does it mean if we plant April 14 or May 14?
Think of all our fields as one giant garden. For all you gardeners out there, if you are like me you may time some of your planting.
For example, I know that I prefer to have most of my garden done before we start chopping silage or harvesting crops in September. So, I tend to plant on the side of early.
Every seed has a “growing season” or how long it takes before that seed reaches maturity and can be eaten. Green Beans are about 45 to 75 days, depending on the variety. I like to plant these early and finish my preserving before we start getting into our busy season. Plus, we like to enjoy them as much as we can through the summer.
Fields are a lot like gardens. Farmers tend to plant different types of seeds with various “growing seasons”. A farmer can have one seed he plants or he could have a different type for every field he plants, if he wishes.
It can take anywhere from 90 to 120 “growing degree days (GDD)” before a corn plant reaches maturity. This number can vary depending on many factors- soil temperature, planting depth, residue that is on the topsoil, the type of tillage system that was used.
I can’t tell you exactly how my husband and his brothers pick their seed every year. But, I can tell you that a lot of factors go into play. Seed companies come out with all sorts of new seed products every year. Pioneer alone has over 300 different seed types.
Farmers spend a significant amount of time comparing seeds to be used the following year. And sometimes you play the guessing game.
If last year we chose a seed corn that reaches maturity at 110 days and we plant on May 10th this year. We may be looking at it reaching maturity at the very end of August, beginning of September. But even that could be varied depending on the weather. So many factors go into play.
I wanted to give a little insight for those that are interested because we are going to be getting into the fields quite a bit later this year, due to that 12 inches of snow we got here a few weeks ago.
I am certainly no expert when it comes to planting a field. And most of this knowledge comes from my brain, from a college class that I was required to take. That now I am so glad I took because I ended up marrying a farmer! But, when in doubt just picture our fields as giant gardens and remember that each seed we put in the ground has a growing season just like your green beans.