Before we head into the field, there’s plenty of things to consider; however, once we do finally get out there (which, for many across Canada seems to be a ways away, yet), that planting pass is crucial.
Tonight’s focus is on corn — and getting that crop established to the best of our abilities.
What are some of the things we can watch for? What is most important when it comes to getting that seed in the ground?
On this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Olivia Noorenberghe of PRIDE Seeds, and Ben Rosser of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), to answer these questions (and much more).
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- Uniformity in emergence and staging as that crop develops is much more from a yield perspective
- If you’ve got a reasonably set up plant, and you’re getting reasonable spacing, I don’t think it’s where you necessarily have to worry about it
- If you’re dropping pockets of four seeds with two feet in between them, that’s obviously going to be an issue. But for the most part, if you have a reasonable setup, yield lost from spacing is fairly minimal compared to uniform emergence
- If there’s five plants that are behind or missing — let’s say five plants per acre at maybe six bushel yield loss, that adds up to 30 bushels per acre, that’s costly!
- The timing is more important
- What is fascinating about corn is something like the spacing or consistency — a leaf stage behind can have a huge impact on our yield potential and what we end up with
- How deep can you safely plant without issues? The number one thing is get consistency in the moisture. Get all those seeds in the moisture so they all germinate and develop at a similar rate
- Typically with corn we go two, to two and a half inches deep
- On medium or lighter textured soils, you tend to not have as much risk with depth
- Noorenberghe did her masters looking at cereal rye termination prior to planting corn. They looked at bunch of different termination times with glyphosate specifically looking at two weeks before planting, a week before planting, a day before planting, and a week after planting. So it all depends what you’re hoping to achieve
- No ice on the lakes is supposed to mean it should warm up faster than normal? We’ll see Peter Johnson, we’ll see.
- Traditional textbook answer to when to stop planting with cold weather coming up is 24-48 hours before it’s predicted to come
- Beware of imbibitional chilling
- If we get colder weather a little bit later than usual, that’s where we sometimes see that corkscrewing effect of imbibitional chilling. It can make it difficult for the plant to emerge
- Within that first week you really want to be monitoring
- It’s a risk looking at the long term trends and whether we may be seeing some of that corkscrewing and some issues with emergence and delayed emergence as well
- We want to monitor soil temperature — it should be at least 10 degrees celsius for that three-to-five days
- We want to make sure we’re getting out there and checking the soil, and at different times of the day as well!
- People don’t pay as much attention to soil temperatures nowadays as maybe what they traditionally did
- Silage is a different ballgame. But does the planting window change significantly if we’re talking silage versus grains corn?
- There’s a bit more forgiveness with silage
- How do you walk through the process of dialing in that plant population?
- Work with your seed provider and hopefully they’ve got some good information for you in terms of sensitivity. All hybrids are a bit different
- Genetics are moving quickly, it’s pretty common to be moving through and introducing new lines quite often
- There are some farmers who like to sick with the tried and true. And others who love to have plots every year and see what’s new, what’s coming down the line, and what we can look forward to. Different mindsets.
- We often talk about the soil being fit. Why does that really mean? It’s really a combination of everything.
- The ability to open up a good furrow, put seed in it consistently, close it back up again, with out smearing.
- How do you determine if the soil is fit?
- Take a ball of soil, and if you can firm it into a ball, and it’s not falling apart or anything like that, the soil is probably not fit, and you should likely park the planter. Wait a couple days until it dries up.
- Even just kicking the soil, and digging into it a bit, to make sure you know what’s happening.
- When you might have to wait a little longer than you’re maybe super comfortable with based on the calendar, does it usually work out better?
- Often times you hear cases where growers did do some of that, and they waited for better conditions in that field, and at the end of the year they did much better waiting three or four days for better conditions.
- Some soil types are more forgiving than others
- It’s a tough call to make in the spring
- Three inches is VERY deep, but we also want to make sure we’re not planting too shallow, because that can lead to issues later on in the season
- Rosser has done some work with looking at different planting patterns as well
- Cover crops play into this too
- If you’re trying to optimize biomass you can get away with a little but later planting
- How important is it to go in and actually look at where the seed is coming, or where the plant is actually germinating from?
- It’s tough to know if we have an issue until it’s too late, sometimes
- If you’re trying to look at crown root development and set and that sort of thing, where we get sidewall smear or fertilizer burn
- Always have a shovel in your truck!
- Everyone is ready for spring. Be safe!