Corn School: Fit soil key to planting success

As warmer weather arrives and fields start to dry up, many growers are tempted to begin field work in preparation for planting.

Working soil that’s not fit, however, can prove problematic later in the spring and throughout the growing season. On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, we catch up with PRIDE Seeds agronomist Matt Chapple in a conventional corn fill to review the dos and don’ts of planting season and the importance of having a management game plan for the acres that growers need to cover in the weeks ahead.

When it comes to planting into a good seedbed, Chapple recommends growers look for an opportunity when the forecasted temperature is trending upward and soil temperatures can be maintained at 10 degrees C for three to five days. “Whether it’s the tillage pass or the planter pass, we want nice, warm soils and that’s going to get us the best corn crop.”

Chapple reminds growers that late April is early for planting corn. Few heat units have been lost and there’s plenty of time to get corn in the ground to optimize yield.

In the video, Chapple emphasizes the need to play attention to both fields to be planted first as well as later-planted fields. Soil type, drainage and residue will often determine which fields need to be worked first. It’s also important to chose the right tool when it comes to tillage. “Maybe a vertical tillage tool is the right choice — something that allows our planter to make a nice clean seed trench; it can close the trench and we can maintain good soil moisture and a nice firm seedbed at planting depth.

If cool or wet conditions persist and planting is delayed, growers need to practice patience, says Chapple, but they also need to keep a close eye on all fields, especially for quick-developing weed control challenges. Winter annuals, including chickweed, are already growing in the field featured in the video and action will be required even though corn may not be planted for three weeks. “If we are not going to touch this field until early early or mid May we have to consider getting in early and knocking down these weeds with a burndown,” says Chapple. A tillage pass, depending on soil conditions, followed by a pre-emerge herbicide application would be another option.

“We really need a game plan,” says Chapple. “In some cases Plan A becomes Plan B and even Plan C.”

Click here for more Corn School videos.

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