Some key factors to consider when we run into cool, wet weather early in the spring are seed selection, planting dates and soil temperature. We typically tell growers that planting earlier can lead to higher yields, but in times like these where we have experienced record snowfall and flooding, early planting may not be an option for growers in much of the Midwest.
For corn, in conditions like we’re experiencing this spring, ensuring we have the right hybrids to handle cool soil temperatures is key. We really need to focus on hybrids that have good cold emergence and vigor. If not, you may be left with seed that struggles to come out of the ground, resulting in yield loss. That being said, growers should still stick with their optimum maturity window for corn, if possible. If conditions persist and adjustments need to be made, they should be minor.
Having consistent soil temperatures before you start planting is key to ensuring germination and even plant stands. For corn, ideally if we can get the soil temperatures to 50 degrees consistently with a good long-term weather forecast, you should be good to plant. Corn will germinate below these temperatures, but you could run the risk of uneven or delayed emergence.
We like to see consistent soil temps around 55 degrees before planting soybeans. It’s especially important to make sure low temps and frost aren’t in the forecast before hitting the field. Because soybeans are planted later, they are not at the same vegetative state as corn in early spring, so a hard frost can sweep through and kill off the plants after emergence. The growing point is above ground for soybean plants, whereas for corn plants the growing point remains underground until right around the V6 growth stage.
Seed Treatments and Other Recommendations
I typically recommend growers who are struggling with cool, wet soils to consider seed treatments for soybeans. Seed treatments allow the seed to sit in the soil longer, giving it more time to germinate and get up out of the ground. If seed treatments aren’t an option, I recommend growers use a starter fertilizer to encourage good root development and overall plant health.
As always, soybean planting depth should remain between 1.5- to 2-inch range to promote the necessary root growth the plant will need during the growing season. For corn, I recommend the 2- to 3-inch range.
For more information about optimal planting conditions for your Stine corn and soybean seed, please contact your local sales agronomist or representative.