Corn School: After a Cool May, We Need a 'Tender' June

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It was slow and steady, but farmers have won the race to get the 2016 Ontario corn crop in the ground.

It’s been a cool spring that’s required lots of patience, says Pride Seeds Market Agronomist Ken Currah. On this episode of Real Agriculture Corn School, Currah looks back at spring planting conditions and discusses challenges growers could face after a backward spring produced slow-drying soils that were tricky to manage.

“When that ground is wet underneath you’ve got to watch what you’re doing,” says Currah, noting that many fields looked fit but harboured considerable moisture two to three inches deep and further down in the soil profile. That could mean traffic and compaction issues as the season progresses.

Currah has already seen some evidence of slower emergence in high traffic areas in his early post-planting fields walks. He says growers may be absolved of their planting sins of the spring if they are blessed with a ‘tender’ June. “That’s what I call moderate temperatures and some frequent rainfall to keep the soils tender and keep those roots active.

“If it turns hot and dry in June and you have any kind of sidewall compaction or any kind of compaction around the furrow, those ailments start to show up pretty quickly,” explains Currah. “As the corn starts to enter that rapid growth stage, it just can’t get the water and nutrients as fast as it needs to.”

Click here for more Real Agriculture Corn School episodes.

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