Signs of spring are all around with tulips and flowering shrubs budding or beginning to break forth in blossom! Have heard of a range of planting conditions and received a variety of questions last week. The following are some considerations as you begin planting or continue to plant this year. Also, John Mick, Pioneer Hi-Bred field agronomist, had excellent planter setting and planting season tips in his agronomy newsletter this week and a team of us share more detail in this CropWatch article.
Honestly, for many of us as agronomists, this spring is a new territory. We’ve dealt with dry conditions and wet ones before, but this situation of not receiving rains, the high winds, and availability of products presents a new challenge for many of us. There’s the saying ‘plant in the dust and your bins will bust’, but there’s also difficulty surrounding herbicide activation and potential ammonia burn from fall/spring applied anhydrous in the seed row.
Soil temps, depth, pops, conditions: We have one chance with planting to start the season off right, so soil conditions fit for planting, seeding depth for corn and soybeans close to 2”, and soil temps in the mid-40’s on a warming trend with no chance of a cold snap within 8-24 hours for soybean and 48 hours for corn are important components to achieving this. I prefer removing one more stress off corn by putting it in the ground when temps will stay over 50F for 5-7 days. It’s been interesting to see the shift in the number of soybean acres planted before corn in the several county area this year. I’m hearing the need for very high down force and difficulty getting planters in the ground, particularly down in the Nuckolls, Webster, Clay, Adams-county areas. Some have shared that no-till ground is working amazing and others have shared the wind removing residue has made the ground extra hard.
Finding moisture has been of concern to both non-irrigated and irrigated farmers as the winds continue. Bob Nielsen at Purdue shared that corn can be planted 3-4” deep based on their research. I wouldn’t put soybean past 2.5”. Regarding seeding rates, I haven’t recommended changing them unless the soybean germination percentage is less than 85%. We do have growers conducting soybean seeding rate studies again this year, and if you’re interested in trying that as well, please let me know.
Some have wondered about planting non-irrigated crops or waiting for a rain. This ultimately will be a grower by grower and field by field decision. We’re only setting at April 25th as I write this and as we think of planting windows vs. planting dates, we are still setting good. Many have asked about watering prior to planting. In general, we’re not recommending it at this time; if we don’t get rains as this planting season continues, we may need to adjust that thinking. Ultimately, we’d say to water before planting if the ground isn’t fit due to extra cloddy or hard soils. For those who applied anhydrous via strip till whether fall or spring, watering prior to planting may help with ammonia burn damage to the seed and to the plant when the roots reach the application zone.
I’ve also been asked about pre-plant herbicides. With the colder soil temps, several have mentioned not seeing weeds thus far. I’m concerned about a few things regarding PREs. One, activation. Most need at least 0.5-0.75” of moisture 5-7 days after application. Some can last on the ground up to 14 days with partial activation. With the wind, my concern is soil particles containing herbicide not staying on the soil surface (depending on tillage practice). Another concern is the moisture levels in soybean fields, planting depth, and PPO-inhibiting herbicides. This is a great chemistry. The challenge can be damage to seeds and seedlings can occur if they come in contact with the herbicide by the seed vee not closing, seed trench cracking, or rain/water-splash onto hypocotyls and cotyledons. Planting soybeans deeper, at least 1.5” (UNL research found best yield at 1.75”), will help allow the soybean to imbibe water from soils that have moisture at that depth. By planting shallow into dry soil, applying herbicide and then having rain or irrigation activate the herbicide, the herbicide can potentially enter the seed when completing the water-uptake process, damaging it. For those concerned about these different situations with pre-plant herbicides, an alternative could be to use a Group 15 product once the corn or soybean emerges. Just know those products won’t kill any weeds that have emerged but will provide residual for ones that come later.
Reminder of York Co. Tire Collection April 30 and May 1 at the York Co. Landfill from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. No tires on rims and participants must show proof of residency. More info: 402-363-2690.