Check the 10-Day Forecast Before Planting

Picture1The arrival of spring weather is something every Midwest farmer anticipates. Early to mid-April brought favorable conditions for fieldwork. Many local farmers finished tilling soils while others started putting seed in the ground.

Soil temperatures across Iowa had been above the 50-degree mark, which is usually the target for corn planting to begin. However, a cold front moved in and soil temperatures have dropped a few degrees in recent days.

Even when soil temperatures are warm enough to plant, farmers must be certain that warmer air temperatures are in the forecast.  Warmer air temperatures are critical to protect the seedlings.  If the air temperature hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less after germination, the young seedling can be killed with the growing point of the plant right at emergence.

Remember, soil temperature for soybean planting is more critical than for corn. We recommend waiting until soil temperatures in a region reach – and maintain – 60 degrees Fahrenheit before soybeans are planted. Soybeans can germinate in a soil environment of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but if the air temperature after germination hits 28 degrees Fahrenheit or less, the young seedling can be killed with the growing point of the plant right at emergence. Adversely for corn, the growing point stays under the surface until much later.

One more consideration before you putting seed in the ground is to make sure soils are fit. Wet soils cause trouble from the beginning and all through the growing season. Compaction resulting from wet soil can kill root growth.

Latham Corn Product Specialists advise farmers to “take the crumble test” before reentering fields. Grab a clump of soil and watch how easily it crumbles. If it stays in a ball, conditions are NOT right for planting. If it crumbles easily, the soil is fit for planting.

We’re well within the optimal Iowa planting dates for corn, so take the time to let fields dry if needed. There are plenty of other uncontrollable factors that determine crop yield, so why not control the ones you can?