Soil Temperature Alert! Watch Soil Temperature before Planting!

April 16, 2013
Author Don Moeller

It is already mid April and you’re ready to plant corn!  Why is soil temperature so important?  We all know that soil temperature should be hovering in the 50 degree area for corn to germinate but what many do not know is that 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.) 

Please consider this!  Many of the near term weather forecasts I have heard are saying cooler temperatures and some form of moisture which potentially may not allow near term soil temperatures to rise or stay like we hope it should.  We have all heard of seed lying in the ground for up to three weeks before it emerges hence we may reason that with the help of today’s seed treatments the seed still germinates and produces corn … so what can happen? 

Keeping in mind it takes the right (1) temperature and (2) amount of water to start germination, problems can arise in cool soil conditions!  Even though the temperature is not adequate to start germination the seed still continues to absorb water through the germ area of the seed. The amount of water absorbed will go above and beyond 30% of the seeds weight to the point where the seed expands so much that it breaks the clear pericarp layer surrounding the seed.  The longer seed lays in cool ground with its pericarp broken is like opening the barn doors wider to allow soil / disease pathogens unlimited opportunity to enter the seed.  These pathogens may increase the possibility of seedling damping off and or surviving plants will be at a greater risk of disease infection that may show up later in the year in the form of fungal diseases like stalk rot or bacterial problems or weaker, susceptible yield robbed plants.      

Consider that we still have a lot of time to plant for the best yield potential.

Categories: Corn, Don "Moe" Moeller, Fertility, Management, Planting, Soils     Tags: Corn, Don "Moe" Moeller, Management, Planting, Soil Temperature, Soils    

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