Let’s Get to the Root of the Matter

June 24, 2020

Mark Borden, Seed Specialist

When farmers ask the question, “Why are my plants emerging at different stages?” there will usually be four or more factors to consider. These factors include, but are not limited to: soil type, soil temp, soil moisture, and seeding depth.

In 2020, I observed more inconsistency with seed planted less than 2 inches. It may have been the year, starting out warm and dry in April, then turning very cold and wet in early May. Root development was impressive on corn planted deeper than 2 inches, with issues in tighter clay soil if the depth reached 3 inches deep. Seedling blight was the killer if water stood on unemerged seedlings, due to the cold weather in May. Freeze damaged plants, that all came back, were only ½ leaf stage behind corn that did not wilt at the surface. Roots were not affected unless there was underlying debris from previous crops. Seedling vigor varies by hybrids, and geographies have some impact on certain pedigrees.

Soybeans in 2020, that were planted after the two freezes on May 11th and 12th followed by heavy rains, seemed to emerge better at 1” depth vs. 1.5”. Due to hard soil conditions that followed, a lot of beans planted in April had to be replanted due to those May events.

Getting to the “root of the matter” requires digging and close observation, drones are a tool, but “drones don’t dig”.

Mark Borden