Agronomy Talk

Agronomy Update

To Plant or Not to Plant

Published on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

With the nice weather we are currently experiencing, many farmers find themselves asking the question, “should I be planting?” Here are a few factors to consider when answering that question.

  • Target soil temperature of 55 degrees at planting depth with a forecast that will maintain that soil temperature 7-10 days after planting.
  • Aim to have a minimum 24 hours between planting and the first rain – especially if that rain will be a potentially cold rain.
  • Maintain a consistent planting depth of 2 to 2.5 in. for corn and 1.5 to 1.75 in. for soybeans.

Soil Temperature:
Soil temperatures yesterday, April 18, in the Springfield/London, OH area ranged from 59 to 60°F at 8:15 a.m. with afternoon temperatures ranging from 68 to 71°F at 4:30 p.m. Often times we only evaluate the current soil temperatures when we are planting. It is important to remember that we must also consider if soil temperatures will be maintained with the given forecast. Ideally, for corn, we want all of our plants to emerge within 24 hours of one another. Plants within a row compete with one another for water, sunlight, and nutrients. With that said, inconsistent emergence will put some plants at a disadvantage, affecting plant performance, pollination, grain fill, and ultimately yield.

Planting Depth:
A corn seed must imbibe, or take up, about 30 percent of its weight in water to initiate germination while soybeans must imbibe 50 percent to do the same. The plant’s first drink of water to help initiate germination is critical and if the first water taken up is less than 50°F, chilling injury can occur. Planting too shallow can result in inconsistent soil moisture in the seed zone, causing a fluctuation of emergence or worse yet, halt the germination process all together if the seed zone becomes too dry. When planting early, some farmers may be inclined to plant a little shallower as they feel that they can get the plant up and going faster, reducing the risk for crusting. It is critical to maintain seeding depth of 2 to 2.5 in. for corn to ensure proper nodal root development. The nodal root system will serve as the highway for movement of water and nutrients throughout the growing season. For soybeans, maintaining a planting depth of 1.5 to 1.75 in. will help create uniform emergence and initiate nodulation to take place deeper in the soil profile. Nodules formed at increased soil depths function more efficiently and produce higher volumes of nitrogen due to cooler soil temperatures.

Make Observations now for Fall 2017:
The planting season is a great time to make observations and take notes on what kind of weed control that may be necessary for this coming fall. Take the time now to make notes of fields that are experiencing greater marestail and winter annual pressure so you can make the proper weed management decisions this fall.  

Below are two pictures that I took yesterday (4/18/17) of a field in which a farmer ran out of spray last fall after he made his initial pass around the field.  He wanted to see if the fall treatment would make any difference. The clean area (outside perimeter) of the field received an application of glyphosate and 2,4-D/Dicamba, a very economical treatment. The soil temperature was 68°F under the carpet of winter annuals and marestail. The soil temperature where he applied his fall application was 71° F.  Which area do you think will be more attractive for BCW (black cutworm) moths to lay their eggs this spring? 

If you have any questions regarding the above information or anything else this planting season, please do not hesitate to contact myself or your local Beck’s dealer, or seed advisor.








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Author: Luke Schulte

Categories: Agronomy, Ohio


Luke Schulte

Luke Schulte

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