Well, winter seems to be sticking around. My thoughts and prayers have been with those of you calving with the difficult conditions this year.
I provided an update regarding soil moisture status in non-irrigated fields both in this week’s UNL CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu and my blog at jenreesources.com. We’ll see what happens with moisture in the next few weeks and I’ll post updates to my blog.
Very few have tried planting in this part of the State that I know of. Grateful for all of you who keep me updated on what’s going on through your questions and comments! In this week’s UNL CropWatch, Dr. Roger Elmore took the lead on an article addressing corn planting. The message is to ideally wait till soil temperatures reach 50F with weather conditions allowing soil temperatures to remain at 50F or higher for the next 48 hours. We’ve observed when seed was planted and a cold snap with cold rains was received within 48 hours, some problems with seed germination and emergence. Hybrids vary in cold tolerance and seed companies are a great resource for that information as to which hybrids could be planted first in colder soils. Soil temperature information can be found at the UNL CropWatch site at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature. We’d also recommend you take the soil temperature in the field before you plant and can do so by using a meat thermometer.
Last year I remember receiving questions from April 21-24 regarding planting corn and soybeans with an anticipated cold snap later that week. At that time, I was recommending growers switch to soybeans. The reason? Soybeans imbibe (uptake) water more quickly than corn seeds and while we hear 48 hours to be on the safe side, the critical period is more like 24 hours. Also, several years of both small plot and on-farm research in Nebraska has shown the primary way to increase soybean yields is to plant early. Dr. Jim Specht’s research showed soybeans produced a new node every 3.75 days once V1 occurs. The nodes are where pods and seed occur. Our on-farm research planting date studies also showed regardless if the spring was cold/wet or warm/dry, the early planted soybean always out-yielded the later planted with a total average across trials of 3 bu/ac. The data ranged from 1-10 bu/ac. We never planted early without using an insecticide/fungicide seed treatment to protect that seed, so we recommend you add that if you do plant early.
Our recommendation would be to plant the last week of April or as close to May 1 as conditions allow. We’ve also seen good results after April 20 in years if the soil temperatures were around 50F with good weather conditions at least 24-48 hours after planting to maintain that soil temp. It’s important to know your level of risk, though. Crop Insurance planting date for replant considerations is April 25 and there may also be replant options from your seed suppliers. We never replanted any of our studies and I have only observed frost on soybean cotyledons one year where growers planted early with soybeans coming out of it. We had the largest number of acres I’ve seen planted by April 24 last year with thankfully no issues and they were able to take advantage of a high-yielding bean year. Perhaps this is something you wish to try for yourself this year? Consider planting some passes of soybeans early and come back with some passes three weeks later. You can use this Soybean Planting Date Protocol if you’re interested in trying this for yourself. Please let me know if you’re interested in this!
Depending on the number of acres you have, some growers are now planting soybeans first. Others are planting corn and soybeans at the same time by either running two of their own planters/drills or custom hiring someone to plant soybeans for them. This also spreads risk and can help with harvest. Regarding maturities, a study conducted at UNL East Campus compared a 2.1 vs. 3.0 maturity group variety at 10 day intervals beginning April 23 through June 19. Yield was highest for early planted soybean and a yield penalty of 1/8 to 1/4 bu/ac per day of delay in planting for MG2.1 and MG3.0 varieties, respectively was found. The study also indicated that yield of the MG3.0 variety was higher relative to the MG2.1 variety in early plantings (late April and early-mid May), but the opposite (greater yield in MG2.1 versus MG3.0 variety) was found for late plantings (late-May and June). In our part of the State, we’ve observed really high yields from strong genetics in the MG2.4-2.5 varieties when planted early; so I have a hard time automatically recommending later MG varieties without more data. Thus, I would love to work with anyone interested in planting early comparing a high yielding MG2.4-2.5 vs. a high yielding MG3.0-3.5 to obtain more data. Here’s a Soybean Maturity Group Comparison with Early Planting protocol to consider and please let me know if you’re interested in this!
Wheat: My colleague, Dr. Nathan Mueller in Dodge County, has taken the lead on
sharing wheat information for Eastern Nebraska. He’s put together an excellent resource on his blog at http://croptechcafe.org/winterwheat/. Every Friday he’s sharing an update called “What’s up this Wheat“. He also started an Eastern NE wheat listserv and his website explains how to subscribe to it. Grateful for his effort in this as we both have goals of increasing crop diversity in the areas we serve and there are many benefits to wheat in rotation!
Crabgrass prevention in Lawns: Just a quick note that while our Extension lawn calendars promote applying crabgrass preventer in mid-April, our horticulture experts say to wait till soil temperatures are 55F on a seven day average and we are currently far from that! Check out https://cropwatch.unl.edu/cropwatchsoiltemperature for soil temp info.