Corn School: Keys for planting in late, wet conditions

Crop insurance deadlines may be looming, but the rush to get corn seed in the ground when it’s late in the planting window and soil conditions are wet can also cause problems, such as poor root development, later in the growing season.

Sidewall compaction in the furrow is a common consequence of planting into wet soils, making it tough for corn to develop good root structure, explains Breanne Rey, market development agronomist with PRIDE Seeds in Manitoba.

She joins RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner to discuss the wet and delayed planting scenario facing corn growers on the Eastern Prairies in this new Corn School episode.

“One obvious thing we need to look out for is wet soil build-up on our planter,” notes Rey. In addition to that sidewall compaction, mud on theĀ gauge wheels, disk openers, and closing wheels can smear the soil, causing poor row closure, and lead to inconsistent planting depth.

With late planting there may be thoughts of placing seed at shallower depths to speed up emergence, but Rey emphasizes it’s critical to maintain a depth of 1.5 to 2 inches to allow the nodal roots of the plant to develop properly.

“It’s going to enable us to have good water and nutrient uptake, and those nodal roots are also structural support, so that corn plant will have good standability and good plant structure throughout the season if it starts out at the proper depth,” she explains.

Soil temperature at planting depth should be at least 10 degrees C, with a 48 hour warming trend, she notes.

Patience is key, even though it’s late, says Rey. “Make sure your seedbed is fit for planting. You want to make sure when you grab the soil in your hand, it crumbles when squeezed. You don’t want it to form a hard ball, because that can set you up for failure.”

The seeding deadline for full crop insurance coverage for most of Manitoba’s grain corn growing area falls on May 30, with a small area in the south-central region receiving full coverage until June 6. The deadline for silage corn in southern Manitoba is June 15.

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