Conditions, Not Calendar Should Drive Planting
May is here and planting is significantly behind in most corn producing states. While farmers want to get going, sound agronomic decisions must take precedence. If soils are too wet and cold, that can lead to problems down the road with lost efficiency for the money spent.
“We’re going to put out the most expensive crop ever, so the need for patience to do it right is really significant and important,” says Delk Crosier, Maximum Farming Implementation Specialist. “Despite the urge to plant now, conditions must be right, especially given the costly inputs this year.”
Today’s planter technology means farmers can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time and waiting a day or two longer for good soil conditions can be a good decision. Farmers can apply multiple products simultaneously and at a variable rate, so the crop can get planted and fertilized in one pass.
Soils that are too wet can lead to compaction that will limit nutrient efficiency and yield potential this fall. “No matter what products are applied or how much money is spent, if those products are put on and the sidewalls are compacted, root growth will be restricted. Those roots will not be able to get to the products that were applied,” Crosier says.
Less than ideal soil conditions can also impact planting depth. Anytime the seed is at an inch and a half deep or shallower, the crop is at risk for herbicide damage and drying out in hot summer conditions due to the rooting environment being too high in the soil profile. It also means the money spent on inputs could go to waste on an inefficient crop.
It’s easy to overlook planting depth when a farmer looks at the calendar and thinks, “we need to go”, but rooting environment is the most important thing when determining yield. The bottom line – soil conditions need to be favorable to get the best rooting environment possible.
“That root and how it has the ability to express itself in the soil profile determines everything; it determines how the plant emerges, how it is able to uptake nutrients and grow through rapid growth phase, its ability to withstand stresses during pollination, and ultimately its productivity during grain fill from brown silk to black layer.” Crosier shared.
When the combine and yield monitor run across the field, farmers want the best result for the most expensive crop that has ever been planted. That starts with waiting for the right planting conditions.