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Standard Planting Guidelines Might Not Apply in 2013

04/11/2013 @ 4:28pm

The main objective at planting time is to provide seed with an environment that promotes rapid germination and vigorous early growthCorn needs water, aeration and temperature – all in the right portions – as well as seed-to-soil contact to germinate and emergeObviously, soil temperature and soil moisture are key to germinationIf the soil is too dry or too cold, the seed will just lay in the ground without germinating.

When soil moisture is at field capacity, the optimum planting depth is 2” deep for corn and 1.5” deep for soybeans Current field conditions in some areas across the U.Saren’t “optimal.” Due to late-season snowfall and early spring rains, some fields are extremely wet nowIn other areas, however, field conditions remain extremely dry. 

In dry conditions, seeding depth can differIf we receive the rain that’s forecast in the next 10 days, however, soil moisture could be more than adequate at planting timeThree factors affect corn’s response to seeding depth: (1) soil texture; (2) tillage system; and (3) residue cover. 

Knowing the soil texture will help dictate how deep seeds need to be placed for adequate available moisture for successful germinationNo-till fields should retain adequate soil moisture at a reasonable planting depth in most yearsMinimum-till also helps conserve moisture.

Planting too deep just may have the opposite effect of what you’d likeThere are two major problems that can result from planting too deep: (1) delayed emergence and (2) uneven standsStands may become uneven due to crusting, tooIf a hard, pounding rain falls shortly after planting, seedlings can have a very hard time breaking through crusted soils.

Also keep in mind that planting too shallow can also provide negative resultsCorn seed planted too shallow most often results in poor root development and may affect the crop all the way to harvestSeeds that are planted too shallow have a tendency to develop “rootless corn syndrome,” causing plants to fall over because they lack nodal root development.

There are “best management practices” farmers can implement this springKeep the conservation of moisture in mind, and make the most of the good field conditionsFewer passes across the field with disks or field cultivators will help conserve moistureAlso bear in mind how the amount of residue may affect planting conditionsTake notice of debris in the fieldToo many stalks or root balls can inhibit seed emergence.

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