Plant based on soil temps, not calendar date

April 6, 2018

While first crop insurance dates are coming up quickly, late cold weather has pushed soil temperatures down to where we need to start reevaluating our planting schedule this Spring. Current soil temperature readings are hovering in the 30’s & 40’s in most of our region. With the possibility of future inclement weather in most cases it will not be worth the risk pulling the planter out into the field as early as you had probably planned.

Wait to plant until the soil temperature is right

As you make early-season planting decisions, always remember that soil temperatures closely follow air temperatures. In general, corn should be planted when soil temperature near 50 degrees. The condition of the seedbed is always an important consideration for corn to germinate. But it takes two things in the right amounts to properly start the corn seed germination process. One is the right temperature and secondly, the seed needs to absorb around 30% of the seeds weight in water to begin the process in cooperation with soil temperature.  (Note: soybeans need to absorb about 50% of the seed weight.) 

Planting date

Yields are much more stable early in the planting season than late. Planting 10 days before the optimum window is generally a much safer practice than planting 10 days after the window. This is because yields will begin to drop off dramatically in mid-May. We recommend planting corn prior to May 15 if possible. Of course, embedded within this planting date recommendation is the assumption that soil conditions are favorable and that good hybrids have been selected. Planting date is simply one criterion among many that will allow high yields to be reached.

Check out your local soil tempatures here. 

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