Plant into the Best Seedbed Possible

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One of the things I like most about spring is you get to enjoy all four seasons in just a few days. In mid-April, we had snow flurries with an overnight low of 16 on a Sunday. A warm wind brought temperatures into the 70s by mid-week, and that weekend rain fell. That’s why I always tell people to plant by the conditions, not the date on the calendar!

Soil conditions are far more important than planting date. Rather than mudding in your seed to say that it was planted early, you’ll have a better chance of achieving maximum yield by planting into properly tilled soil. Working soils that are too wet leads to yield loss and more problems during the growing season from soil compaction. Restricted root development, nutrient deficiency and reduced infiltration rate are among the top 10 reasons to avoid soil compaction.

Adapted full-season corn hybrids can compensate somewhat for later plantings. As planting is delayed, hybrids shorten the time between planting and silking. Research shows that development and final yield of these hybrids will not be largely affected unless frost occurs especially early in the fall. That’s why we recommend waiting until May 15 in North Dakota and May 25 in Iowa before switching to an earlier maturing corn hybrid or switching to soybeans.

Patience is also key when planting soybeans. Planting into a field that is too wet will reduce emergence and plant population, which most often leads to reduced yield. Another cause of reduced yield is weed pressure. Make sure the sprayer is right behind the planters. Otherwise, soybeans might poke through the ground before your pre-emerge was applied.

We get one chance every spring to create the best seedbed possible for planting, so let’s take advantage of it! This may require a different piece of tillage equipment than originally planned, but taking the time to make the equipment switch will pay big dividends by resulting in better seed-to-soil contact that enhances germination and early growth.