Evergreen Problems Webinar will be on April 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. Please call Platte County Extension at 402-563-4901 to RSVP. They will send you the Zoom link and password. There is no fee.
Considering Carbon: opportunities and challenges webinar will be held April 21 at 11 a.m. CST. Info & registration here: https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars/climate21/. There is no fee.
Reminder: Household Hazardous Waste Collection April 24th for Seward (8 a.m.-Noon) and Butler (1:30-4:30 p.m.) counties.
Soybean germination and planting: When I first began Extension, research on early soybean planting was just beginning. At the time, I hadn’t thought about planting soybean at the same time as corn, or even before corn. Soybean genetics and seed treatment improvements have allowed for this. Our recommendation for increased yield is to aim for planting the last few weeks of April if conditions are right, use a seed treatment, and plant 1.75-2″ deep. It seems like each year during planting season, we experience 1) soil temps in the mid-40’s with solid soil conditions and on a warming trend and 2) the potential for cold snaps with cold rains/snow after planting. What should one do and what’s the time-frame for risk of chilling injury?
For soybean, and corn for that matter, I’m not as concerned about #1 if the soil is fit and proper seeding depth (2”) is maintained. For #2, if the soil conditions are right and there’s at least 24 hours before a cold snap, consider planting beans instead of corn. That’s because soybean imbibes (takes up) water more quickly than corn. Once that imbibitional period is completed, the risk of chilling injury also ends. The seed can then remain (in osmotic phase) at cooler soil temperatures for a period of time in a sort of ‘dormant state’, until warmer temperatures return for continued seedling development.
In March 2021, Dr. Jim Specht and I began indoor and outdoor demonstrations. To be clear, we’re not recommending planting soybean in March in Nebraska. And, the point of these studies wasn’t to encourage increasing risk of pushing planting prior to cold snaps. I’m grateful for conditions like this year that make the decision to not plant easy when we know it’s staying cold with precipitation in the forecast. Our demonstrations just provided time looking at windows of 40-50F soil temps and increasing/decreasing trends. Soybeans are just beginning emergence from the March 10 planting in York. Soil temps in soybean and corn residue and living rye cover crop have been monitored since then and can be seen in an article at cropwatch.unl.edu. The soil under rye cover was 1-5 degrees cooler than under corn residue which was 1-2 degrees cooler than under soy residue.
We used coolers at 60F and 36F at the York Co. Fairgrounds to conduct an indoor experiment, explained in more detail at cropwatch.unl.edu. Enough trays were planted with soybean and corn seed so they could be switched between the coolers every 2 and then 12 hours for a total of two days. We didn’t have space for replications. All trays were removed to my house after 72 hours. They were kept at 50F for 9 days (which in many cases, early planted soybean do set in the soil for a period of time before emergence). Then they were kept at 60F soil temp with emergence counted each day until termination April 8. In the soybean, similar percent emergence was found in the 60F control; and where soybeans were at 60F for 8, 10, 12 and 48 hours before switching to 36F. This showed that we no longer saw reduced emergence upon 8 hours prior to a cold snap (in this non-replicated experiment). This potential 8 hour critical period has been within the time-frame of published research studies and non-published field observations.
The 36F to 60F switch showed that a warming trend in the first 2-6 hours led to greater emergence. We don’t recommend planting into soils at 36F, but it served as a nice low extreme. We would anticipate the emergence would improve if the soil temp was 40F or mid-40’s with a warming trend.
What does this mean? If soil conditions are right for planting and seed is planted around 2” deep with a seed treatment, I’m not as concerned about planting soybean or corn at 45F soil into a warming trend. For planting prior to cold snaps, if one chooses to do this, we say aim for at least 24 hours for soybeans and 48 hours for corn. We know not every soybean field is completely planted at 24 hours prior to a cold snap, so to me, this gives some insight why we’ve seen fields, including two on-farm research ones in Seward county last year, still have 86% emergence prior to snow falling eight hours later. Also key is when the beans will emerge compared to frost potential. If the beans are in the ground or have cotyledons exposed, we haven’t observed a need to replant due to frost damage thus far. It’s when the hypocotyl hook is at the soil line that can result in replant potential. Thanks to York Co. Ag Society for use of their coolers, Jerry Stahr for use of his field, Jed Erickson for providing the corn and soybean seed, and Dr. Jim Specht for his help in spite of being retired!
What a blessing last week was for many to be in the fields to either finish or start planting! And, while some may not want it, we could also use some rain to help with the crusting issues that have been developing in various fields due to the warm temperatures and wind. As you assess stands, the following article provides some guidelines on what to look for and any replant considerations for corn: https://go.unl.edu/j727.
For those who planted soybean earlier into cooler soil conditions, Dr. Jim Specht also did so on different dates this year and monitored air/soil temperatures at the former ARDC near Mead. Air temperature daily lows were less than 36°F on eight days (five of which were 32°F or lower), were less than 40°F on 17 days, were less than 44°F on 23 days; and notably, were less than 48°F on 31 of the 37 days. I’ve talked about desiring a 24 hour window of near 50F temps for avoiding potential seed chilling of soybean. It’s based off some Canadian research that showed soybean completing the imbibitional (water uptake) phase in as little as 8-24 hours. Jim had a demo study this year in which he placed water into furrows and planted soybean seed 1.25” deep into the furrows on various days in April at 2:30 p.m. Adding water to the furrow was to hasten the imbibitional phase. There’s a slideshow with the full article in this week’s CropWatch at: https://go.unl.edu/yu2m. The article shows the seeds in this demonstration did not appear to be impacted by chilling injury in spite of low air/soil temperatures on some of the days including within a 24 hour period. The hypothesis is that planting in a warmer part of the day with good soil moisture allowed the imbibitional phase to complete more rapidly before the cold snaps occurred in the evening/following day. While this was only a demo, it spurs many questions. Further research to better document chilling injury and imbibitional period for different soil temps/moisture contents would hopefully help growers planting soybean in April.
Silver and Red Maple Trees: While back home helping with planting, I was also receiving numerous tree questions. For those with malformed leaves or various leaf coloration, I’m thinking that’s mostly due to the cool temperatures we’ve experienced. Malformed leaves can also be due to growth regulator herbicides such as 2,4-D (from weed and feed products or sprays) being applied to lawns when trees are beginning to leaf out.
For the past few weeks, I was observing the slow leaf-out of silver maples in town…even where portions of trees were leafing out and other portions seeming bare. Now, if your maples look like mine, they look brown and bare with huge seed production and minimal leaves. This can also be seen in red maple varieties such as the popular ‘Autumn Blaze’ maples from my observation. For everyone who called or texted, I told you I was assuming it was due to the cold snaps and frosts affecting trees leafing out. It also could be a result of the hard winter. Trees are interesting as stresses from previous years can also affect them several years down the road. While all that’s true, what I didn’t realize is that based on information from Ohio and Michigan State, frost at specific times trigger whether a tree goes into seed or leaf production. Maple trees produce very small flowers that turn into seeds every spring. Frost will kill some of the blossoms if received at the right time which leads to less seeds and more leaves. Even though it was a cold spring, perhaps fewer blossoms were killed than normal at the right time? It could also just be the natural cycle of heavy seed production this year? Regardless, the trees can’t support both massive seed production and leaf production, so many opted for seed production. The good news is that shade trees in general have an ability to shoot new leaves after being stressed. I see this every year after trees lose leaves due to herbicide damage, insects, diseases, or environmental conditions. So, give the trees a couple of weeks and you should begin to see new leaves developing. Don’t add fertilizer or other products to them as it’s not necessary and can actually stress trees that are stressed even more. By summer, the trees should look fairly normal. If they don’t, perhaps there’s another stressor occurring with your tree? The biggest culprits I see are roots that girdle (choke) the tree by wrapping themselves around the trunk or damage to the trunk from weed whackers.
What about those seeds in lawns and gardens? Some pre-emergent lawn herbicides will keep them from sprouting. Pulling them is time consuming, yet a valid option that’s best done as soon as seedlings emerge. Mowing may help keep some of them at bay. Weed and feed products for lawns often contain 2,4-D so using that or lawn care products with 2,4-D can be an option (just be sure to read the pesticide labels). Products like Preen can be pre-emergent options for flower beds/gardens.