Hot Topics from Nichols Agriservice

  • Friday September 26

    We are planning on having a company wide meeting on Friday September 26.  Please contact us early as we will try to accommodate any needs that may arrive.  If you are need of assistance on Friday then please contact Josh at 563-299-5786. 



    Josh O'Toole

  • Lodged Corn

    Mid- to late-season lodging

    Why did the plants root lodge?

    First, hybrids vary in their tolerance to lodging. Second, root lodging can be directly tied to rootworm larvae feeding. Third, plants may lodge simply because of strong winds and saturated soils (may or may not exhibit rootworm damage). Warm, dry conditions during corn's vegetative period result in deep root penetration while cool, wet conditions result in shallow root systems. The latter would result in corn that is more prone to root lodging from strong winds and saturated soils.

    Roots act as guy ropes and props that anchor corn plants against lodging. Initially both windward and leeward roots play a role with slow wind speeds, however, as wind speeds increase, the role of the windward and leeward roots change. During high wind events, windward roots are pulled from the soil while leeward roots are pushed into the soil. Although it might make sense that lodging comes from windward roots that fail to hold fast to the soil, the fragile link in rooting structures is the weakness in compression of the leeward corn roots from bearing large downward loads. A rotation of 10 degrees is enough to cause the leeward roots to buckle and the plant to lodge (Ennos et al.).

    Root mass reaches its maximum at silking (R1). Brace roots provide support to the stalk and are of considerable importance in "resurrecting" plants root lodged by strong winds. Fortunately, plants root lodged before R1/R2 are somewhat able to compensate for the canopy disruption caused by the lodging. After a couple of days, the upper portions of these plants resume a vertical growth pattern, "goosenecking." Although this rearrangement of the crop canopy may limit potential yield losses, it does make harvesting slower and increases the potential for ear loss during harvest.

    How will root lodging affect yield?

    An Iowa State study forced V10-stage corn to "lodge" at a 45° angle in plots with and without rootworms. Grain yield of lodged corn without rootworms yielded 11 and 40 percent less than the control in the two years of the study while lodged corn with rootworms yielded 12 and 28 percent of the control. Years made a big difference in yield response. It was concluded that lodging was more detrimental to biomass accumulation and yield than corn rootworm larval feeding itself. In a separate study with natural root lodging, lodged plants intercepted 28 percent less light than un-lodged plants.

    This gives us some idea of the wide variation in years and among treatments at V10. Simulated root-lodging work from the University of Wisconsin addresses the yield impact when lodging occurs at silking. Corn was lodged in two years at three different growth stages each year (see Table 1).

    Lodging treatments in Year 1 Grain yield (bu/acre) Lodging treatments in Year 2 Grain yield (bu/acre)
    Control 199 Control 187
    V10 191 V11--V12 181
    V13--V14 182 V15 168
    V17--R1 151 VT 160
    LSD (0.05) 20 LSD (0.05) 10

    Table 1. Simulated root lodging. University of Wisconsin. 

    Lodging did not affect plant development, but it did increase the number of barren plants. The yield loss varied across the two years, with losses in the first year up to 30 percent and half of that in the second year. Overall, yields were reduced 2-6% when corn was lodged from V10/V12, 5-15% when corn was lodged from V13/V15, and 12-31% when corn was lodged on or after V17. We would expect less yield reductions after R1 since VT/R1 are the most critical stages for leaf loss, plant loss, etc. to occur.

    What can we learn that will reduce root lodging in the future?

    • Identify whether the lodging was primarily caused by rootworm larvae feeding, poor root development (due primarily to cold, wet soil conditions), poor seed placement at planting (too shallow of root mass), late-season stalk rot (see the Image Gallery for pictures of late-season lodging) or due to other circumstances. Understanding the cause will provide valuable information when managing this field in the future.
    • In areas where rootworm larvae feeding was the cause of the root lodging, use soil insecticides, crop rotations, or Bt hybrids resistant to rootworm feeding.
    • Hybrids vary in their susceptibility to lodging, select hybrids that withstand root lodging.
  • Your Invited!

    Asgrow/DeKalb Breakfast

    Date: Tuesday, May 27 2014

    Time: 9 am - 10:30 am

    Place:  Nichols Test Plot

    Call Nichols Ag for details

  • Memorial Day

    We are going to be close Monday May 26 for Memorial Day.  Call Josh or Jerry if you need beans. 

  • Sudden Death

    I would like to remind people that our seed treater is up and running.  We can run custom blends for any type of seed treatment available.  We will also treat anyone's seed.  Give us call if you need something done.  I think the conditions are right for seed treatment to really show some value. 



    I might be a little late but here is some information on sudden death.

    Disease Management

    Management options for SDS are limited. Although soybean cultivars that are less susceptible to SDS have been developed, no highly resistant cultivars are available (Njiti et al., 2002). Fungicides applied in furrow during planting or as seed treatments have only limited effects on disease reduction. Fungicides applied to foliage have no effect on SDS suppression, presumably because the fungal infection is restricted to root systems and fungicides typically do not move downward in the plant to reach this site of infection. Several management practices may reduce the risk of SDS damage, although they will not prevent the disease:

    Planting Date

    Early planting predisposes soybean to infection. In cool, wet soils, young soybean plants are vulnerable to infection by the SDS pathogen. If early spring conditions are favorable for rapid soybean growth, and if saturating rains do not occur during early reproductive stages of growth, the risk for SDS may be less even though the fungus is present in the soil. Fields with no history of SDS should be planted first; fields where SDS has been a problem should be planted last.


    Compacted soils impede water percolation and restrict root growth. A heavy rain when soybean has reached the reproductive stages will saturate compacted areas, which promotes SDS development. Correcting soil compaction and water permeability problems may reduce the risk for SDS. Soils respond differently to tillage system intensity changes; plowing, chiseling, or similar drastic soil disturbances strongly affect drainage, crop residue position, and the microbial composition of soil (Aon, 2001; Kladivko, 2001). Not surprisingly, reports on effects of tillage on SDS are contradictory. In some soils, no-tillage can be beneficial in reducing the severity of SDS compared to plow or chisel plow tillage (Seyb et al., 2007; Abney, unpublished). In other soils, intensive tillage reduces SDS presumably by maintaining sufficient vertical water movement compared to no-till (Vick et al., 2006). The best drainage and the most root growth-enhancing soil management may be facilitated in various ways — in some instances, this may require intensive tilling in some soil types, but no-till may be more appropriate in other soil types.


    Crop rotation may reduce the risk for SDS (Rupe et al., 1997), but corn-soybean in yearly rotation, common in the Corn Belt, does not reduce the incidence and severity of SDS (Westphal, unpublished). Severe outbreaks of the disease have occurred even after several years of continuous corn. Crop rotation reduces the inoculum potential of other soybean pathogens, but shifting to annual rotations of corn and soybean (compared to longer rotations that involved small grains and perhaps forages) fails to reduce the risk for SDS. Studies at Purdue University have found that soybean roots are not visually healthier after a rotation with corn compared to continuous soybean (Xing and Westphal, unpublished). When corn is grown in the field, soilborne pathogens may decline to some extent, but not enough to substantially reduce the disease pressure when soybean is grown in the field the following year. Although a two-year rotation may hold SCN population densities below threshold levels when the initial population density is low, such a rotation appears to be too short to reduce risk for SDS.

    Resistant Soybean Cultivars

    Soybean breeders are striving to develop SDS-resistant cultivars, but progress has been slow. Greenhouse and field methods, employing high rates of artificially produced fungal inoculum on grain sorghum and carefully selected watering regimes were developed (Hartman et al., 1997; De Farrias et al., 2006). While most seed companies have removed highly susceptible cultivars from their inventories, no highly resistant cultivars are available. Because seed companies continually introduce new cultivars and retire older ones, accurate information about the reaction of new cultivars to SDS is essential.

    Under these challenging management conditions, planting highly susceptible soybean cultivars into fields with high risk for SDS must be avoided. Field records of when and where SDS and other soilborne diseases occur are essential for management of SDS and other soilborne diseases. Handheld GPS receivers may assist in this strategy, but even simple sketched maps will help record problem areas. Fields severely affected by SDS should be earmarked for later planting and operations to improve water permeability should be considered, including compaction-correcting tillage or tile drainage. Finally, cultivars with some degree of resistance should be planted.

  • VRT Planting and Seed Treatment

    Hello everyone,

    I just have a few updates before what looks to be another hectic spring. If you are interested in variable rate planting, we have the technology available here on a local level with people you trust. We can do it if off of soil types or my preferred method, yield maps.  Give us a call soon if you are interested.

    I have one another announcement.  We are currently installing a state of the art seed treatment system.  With the improvements in seed care I believe it will be one of our most important tools to increase and protect soybean yields in the coming years.  Even if you haven’t purchased seed from us we would gladly treat anyone’s soybeans.  These advanced treatments are very important and we want to make sure you can take advantage of them.  Contact Jerry Gerot for the details. 

    Thanks for your continued support,

    Josh O’Toole




  • High Clearance Dry Spreader Now Available

    We are now able to do custom side-dress application of dry product

    We are pleased to announce we have just purchased a Rogator High Clearance Dry Spreader which will be available for use by all locations.  This will be available on a first come, first serve basis so call your local sales representative today to get your work scheduled!

  • Join us for Breakfast!

    Don't forget to join us for breakfast at the Rendezvous on Tuesday, December 3 at 8 am!

    We have a fantastic line-up of speakers you won't want to miss!



  • Holiday Schedule

    We will be closed the following dates for the holidays:

    Thanksgiving - Thursday November 28 & Friday November 29

    Christmas - Tuesday December 24 & Wednesday December 25

    New Years – Closed at Noon on Tuesday December 31 & and all day Wednesday January 1




     Join us for breakfast and an informative meeting on

     Tuesday, December 3

     8:00 am – 10:30 am

     Rendezvous – Muscatine, IA

     Come listen to our guest speaker Economist and Futurist, Dr. Jay Lehr. 

     He  makes people feel good about Amercian Agriculture!


  • Fall herbicides to control marestail

    Im sure this is the last thing you are thinking about right now but the time is nearing to take action on this.


    Fall herbicides to control marestail

    Aaron Hager, University of Illinois

    Widespread and often very dense populations of marestail in soybean fields last spring caught the attention of farmers and other weed management practitioners. Many came to the difficult realization that marestail is not a problem weed species only in the more southern portions of Illinois.

    It’s difficult to say with complete accuracy how far north these infestations occurred, but mature marestail was easily observed during recent travels through Kankakee and Will counties. As we mentioned earlier this year, many reported poor marestail control from herbicides applied prior to planting (primarily no-till soybean), especially when burndown applications contained only glyphosate or glyphosate plus 2,4-D. The increasing frequency of glyphosate-resistant marestail populations, the rush to plant whenever field conditions were conducive, and the less-than-ideal environmental conditions when many burndown applications were made contributed to a challenging situation for which a good solution was not always readily available.

    Marestail is native to North America and like many other plant species completes its life cycle in one year. Unlike many other annual species, however, marestail can exist as a winter or summer annual. Populations of winter annual marestail typically emerge during the fall months, within a few days or weeks after seed is dispersed from the parent plant. Summer annual populations can emerge in early or late spring, perhaps as late as early summer in some instances.

    In northern areas of Illinois, most marestail demonstrates a winter annual life cycle, whereas a substantially higher proportion of spring emergence occurs in areas south of (approximately) Interstate 70. Both winter and summer annual life cycles can be found across central Illinois.

    Fall-emerging plants form a basal rosette that represents the plant’s overwintering stage. In the spring, plants bolt by rapidly elongating the main stem. Mature horseweed plants may reach heights in excess of 6 feet, but plants ranging from 3 to 5 feet are perhaps most common. Flowers are produced in a panicle-type inflorescence at the top of the plant. The seeds are known as achenes, and are produced with an attached “parachute” (known as a pappus) to aid in wind-borne dispersal. Research has demonstrated that mature marestail plants can produce in excess of 200,000 seeds, with fall-emerging plants frequently producing more seeds than spring-emerging plants.

    Marestail seed can travel long distances with its dispersal mechanism, which becomes especially important when considering the spread of herbicide-resistant biotypes. Mature seeds do not demonstrate much dormancy, but rather germinate soon after contact with the soil surface. Seeds do not remain viable in the soil seedbank for very long.

    We have received many questions about applying herbicides following harvest to control emerged marestail plants. Fall-applied herbicides often provide more effective and consistent control of emerged marestail as compared with spring-applied (i.e., burndown) herbicides. We suggest applying 2,4-D (1.0 lb acid equivalent per acre) anytime between mid-October and late November to control emerged marestail. This treatment should not be expected to provide much soil-residual activity, so marestail plants that emerge after application will most likely not be controlled.

    Do not rely solely on glyphosate (either in the fall or spring) to control emerged marestail. Other herbicides (including glyphosate) can be tankmixed with 2,4-D to broaden the spectrum of winter annual species controlled.

    Do not simply assume that fields treated with fall-applied herbicides will be free of marestail next spring. Be sure to scout fall-treated fields before spring planting and take appropriate measures (i.e., supplemental herbicides, tillage, etc.) to control any existing marestail plants. Do not plant soybean into an existing marestail population. Residual herbicides should be applied close to soybean planting to control summer annual species, including spring-emerging marestail.

    We do not recommend fall herbicide applications as an avenue to provide residual control of summer annual weed species. Control of summer annual species, such as waterhemp, is often improved when soil-residual herbicides are applied closer to planting compared with several weeks (or months) prior to planting.

    If a soil-residual herbicide will be part of a fall herbicide application, we suggest selecting an application rate that will provide control of winter annuals throughout the remainder of 2013, and recommend against increasing the application rate in hopes of obtaining control of summer annual species next spring.


  • Yield Contest

    Don't forget we are still having our yield contest this year.  It could be your year to win 1,000 dollars.

  • Marestail

    Marestail is getting to be a huge problem around our area.  We cannot control it with our spring applications.  I'm suggesting that we spray for it this fall.  If you were thinking about no till beans next year or you have seed corn you should stop by Nichols Ag and see our fall programs. 

  • Soybean Response in Drought

    This talks about some of the stresses we are see in our soybean crop, though it is in Minnesota i think it still applies.

    “Some plants are ripening prematurely. Another symptom of moisture loss is when the soybean leaves flip over in an attempt to slow water loss thru the plant,” said Nicolai. Reduced rainfall in the past four weeks in central Minnesota has resulted in less available soil water for plant growth.
    Although nothing can be done about the amount of rainfall received, and little can be done to manage drought stress at this point, producers can analyze their practices to see if they may be able to minimize drought stress in future seasons.
    The soybean plant might use two strategies to cope with drought during seed filling: reduce (abort) the number of seeds, or reduce the size of the seed. Both seed abortion and reduction in seed size represent direct and irreversible reductions in yield potential. For example, soybean pods which may have included 3 seeds in a pod may now contain just 2 seeds. A reduction in seed size may also lead to harvest losses for growers if combines are not properly calibrated to harvest smaller seeds, according to Nicolai.
    Extension educators throughout the state are noticing that drought-related symptoms on soybean fields are spotty, which is not unusual. Several factors contribute to the irregular nature of the drought-stress symptoms. The plants are not responding directly to the lack of rain, but to limited soil moisture. Soil works like a sponge, quickly soaking in water then slowly losing water through evaporation or plant transpiration. Differences in topography, soil type, soil depth, surface cover, the presence of drainage tile and soil compaction zones are some of the variables that determine how much water will be available to plant roots in a particular area of a field.
    Drought-stress symptoms can be related to management issues. “Small nutrient deficiencies might go unnoticed during a normal year, but become evident when plants are drought-stressed,” said Nicolai.
    Soybean producers who are seeing considerable symptoms in their fields may want to review their practices related to fertility, insect pressure, disease, weed competition, soil compaction, planting date and plant density.
  • Drought Stressed Corn

    Extension Responds: DroughtWhat Happens Within The Corn Plant When Drought Occurs?
    By Joe Lauer, Corn Agronomist, University of Wisconsin-Extension
    August 20,2003

    Many areas of Wisconsin have not had rain for three to four weeks, and corn is showing signs of stress early in the morning (stress-day). Many are concerned about how this will affect corn yields. To begin talking about water influences on corn growth and development and yield we must begin with the concept of evapotranspiration.

    Evapotranspiration is both the water lost from the soil surface through evaporation and the water used by a plant during transpiration. Soil evaporation is the major loss of water from the soil during early stages of growth. As corn leaf area increases, transpiration gradually becomes the major pathway through which water moves from the soil through the plant to the atmosphere.

    Yield is reduced when evapotranspiration demand exceeds water supply from the soil at any time during the corn life cycle. Nutrient availability, uptake and transport are impaired without sufficient water. Plants weakened by stress are more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Corn responds to water stress by leaf rolling. Highly stressed plants will begin leaf rolling early in the day. Evapotranspiration demand of corn varies during its life cycle (Table 1). Evapotranspiration peaks around canopy closure. Estimates of peak evapotranspiration in corn range between 0.20 and 0.39 inches per day. Corn yield is most sensitive to water stress during flowering and pollination, followed by grainfilling, and finally vegetative growth stages.

    Table 1. Estimated corn evapotranspiration and yield loss per stress day during various stages of growth.

    Growth stage


    Percent yield loss per day of stress (min-ave-max)

    inches per day


    Seedling to 4 leaf



    4 leaf to 8 leaf



    8 leaf to 12 leaf



    12 leaf to 16 leaf


    2.1 - 3.0 - 3.7

    16 leaf to tasseling


    2.5 - 3.2 - 4.0

    Pollination (R1)


    3.0 - 6.8 - 8.0

    Blister (R2)


    3.0 - 4.2 - 6.0

    Milk (R3)


    3.0 - 4.2 - 5.8

    Dough (R4)


    3.0 - 4.0 - 5.0

    Dent (R5)


    2.5 - 3.0 - 4.0

    Maturity (R6)



    Water stress during vegetative development reduces stem and leaf cell expansion, resulting in reduced plant height and less leaf area. Leaf number generally is not affected by water stress. Corn roots can grow between five and eight feet deep, and soil can hold 1.5 to 2.5 inches of available soil water per foot of soil, depending upon soil texture. Ear size may be smaller. Kernel number (rows) is reduced. Early drought stress does not usually affect yield in Wisconsin through the V10-V12 stages. Beyond these stages water stress begins to have an increasing effect on corn yield.

    Water stress around flowering and pollination delays silking, reduces silk length, and inhibits embryo development after pollination. Moisture stress during this time reduces corn grain yield 3 to 8 percent for each day of stress (Table 1). Moisture or heat stress interferes with synchronization of pollen shed and silk emergence. Drought stress may delay silk emergence until pollen shed is nearly or completely finished. During periods of high temperatures, low relative humidity, and inadequate soil moisture, exposed silks may dessicate and become non-receptive to pollen germination.

    Two methods commonly are used to assess the success or failure of pollination: counting attached silks and counting developing ovules. Each potential kernel on the ear has a silk attached to it. Once a pollen grain "lands" on an individual silk, it quickly germinates and produces a pollen tube that grows the length of the silk to fertilize the ovule in 12 to 28 hours. Within 1 to 3 days after a silk is pollinated and if fertilization of the ovule is successful, the silk will detach from the developing kernel. Unfertilized ovules will still have attached silks. By carefully unwrapping the husk leaves from an ear and then gently shaking the ear, the silks from the fertilized ovules will readily drop off. Developing ovules (kernels) appear as watery blisters (the "blister" stage of kernel development) about 10 to 14 days after fertilization of the ovules. The proportion of fertilized ovules (future kernels) on an ear indicates the progress and success of pollination.

    Silk elongation begins near the butt of the ear and progresses up toward the tip. The tip silks are typically the last to emerge from the husk leaves. If ears are unusually long (many kernels per row), the final silks from the tip of the ear may emerge after all the pollen has been shed. Another cause of incomplete kernel set is abortion of fertilized ovules. Aborted kernels are distinguished from unfertilized ovules in that aborted kernels had actually begun development. Aborted kernels will be shrunken and mostly white.

    Kernel development (grain-filling)
    Water stress during grain-filling increases leaf dying, shortens the grain-filling period, increases lodging and lowers kernel weight. Water stress during grain-filling reduces yield 2.5 to 5.8 percent with each day of stress (Table 1). Kernels are most susceptible to abortion during the first two weeks following pollination. Kernels near the tip of the ear generally are last to be fertilized and are less vigorous than the rest, so they are most susceptible to abortion. Once kernels have reached the dough stage of development, further yield losses will occur mainly from reductions in kernel dry weight accumulation.

    Severe drought stress that continues into the early stages of kernel development (blister and milk stages) can easily abort developing kernels. Severe stress during dough and dent stages of grain fill decreases grain yield primarily due to decreased kernel weights and is often caused by premature black layer formation in the kernels. Once grain has reached physiological maturity, stress will have no further physiological effect on final yield (Table 1). Stalk and ear rots, however, can continue to develop after corn has reached physiological maturity and indirectly reduce grain yield through plant lodging. Stalk rots are seen more often when ears have high kernel numbers and have been predisposed to stress, especially drought stress.

    Premature Plant Death
    Premature death of leaves results in yield losses because the photosynthetic 'factory' output is greatly reduced. The plant may remobilize stored carbohydrates from the leaves or stalk tissue to the developing ears, but yield potential will still be lost. Death of all plant tissue prevents any further remobilization of stored carbohydrates to the developing ear. Whole plant death that occurs before normal black layer formation will cause premature black layer development, resulting in incomplete grain fill and lightweight, chaffy grain. Grain moisture will be greater than 35 percent, requiring substantial field drydown before harvest.


  • Agronomists Advise a Shot of N for Rain-soaked Soil

    This is an article I found in Ag Web but I think it is time to start thinking about how much nitrogen have we lost.  Please contact us at Nichols Ag if you want to discuss nitrogen loss further or want a late spring nitrate test done.


    Recent heavy rains in parts of the Midwest have all but erased soil water deficiencies... and then some. But as the rain is more than welcome, the resulting delays are making life on the farm a little complicated this year. Some growers were able to take advantage of narrow windows in the weather to apply fertilizer and put seed in the ground.

    Just about that same time, a fresh layer of snow fell, blanketing the Corn Belt. But by then, the soil had thawed and the moisture had a good chance to soak in when the snow melted -- yes Virginia, there is nitrogen in snow. Then came the rains, and it has rained and rained and rained some more.

    Most of the nitrogen applied, either in the fall or in the spring has been subject to leeching and runoff, and experts are advising additional nitrogen applications in areas where the rain has been the most heavy. Even before the clouds opened up, smaller rain events went straight to the spongelike subsoil, taking nitrogen with it, out of reach for developing root systems. Whatever N survived the subsoil soak may have done so just to wind up traveling through tile lines, into the creek and straight to the Gulf of Mexico.

    The winners here will be the hardy few who took a chance and planted before applying nitrogen. Everyone else is expected by agronomists to see potentially significant N losses because of the weather and recommendations have surfaced that advise growers to apply as much as 75 lbs/acre of extra nitrogen to ensure the crop gets off to a good start.

    Some growers will still have unused anhydrous while others have already booked UAN solutions for sidedress. But the nitrogen needs of emerging corn require an adequate and ready supply and as soil moisture levels have increased -- in some areas beyond the point of saturation -- soil nitrogen levels have likely decreased.

    Soil conditions will dictate the timing of your next roll-out into the field, but experts advise a stiff dose of nitrogen on that day as priority one. Speak with your local agronomist, but consider giving your rain-weary corn a quick shot of early season nitrogen to insure seedlings have all they need to grow.


  • Nichols Phone

    Currently we are having problems with our phones in Nichols.  Call Josh's cell phone @ 563-299-5786.

  • Saturday May 25th

    Nichols Ag will close at 9 am Saturday morning for the funeral of Gary Lenz.  Josh will be around until 9 to dump beans.  If you need anything in the afternoon call Josh's cell at 563-299-5786. Thanks to everyone for your support.

  • Planting Depths & Soil Temperatures

    A couple of things to think about this year planting.  This is an article I found on planting depth.

    Root Establishment and Growth

    Around the third to fifth vegetative growth stage of corn (V3 to V5), the crown or nodal roots relieve the seed roots from their responsibilities and will “carry the load” for the corn crop the rest of the season imbibing water and essential nutrients. Regardless of corn seed planting depth, the crown roots will always form ¾ of an inch below the soil surface – even if corn was planted 5 inches deep. The only way this process is disturbed is when corn is planted one inch or less. In these instances, the crown roots are forced to establish closer to soil surface which could lead to inefficiencies in the plant’s ability to establish healthy roots. These plants are also more prone to wind and more likely to lodge come harvest. With fast planter speeds (> 5mph) and rough seedbeds, the likelihood of a smooth planter ride is decreased which means our seed depth may be compromised. Planting 1.5 to 2 inches deep will provide an adequate window of ensuring proper seed depth placement.

    Rate of Emergence

    The second misconception is that shallower planted corn will emerge quicker than deeper planted corn. An extensive search and even creation of film footage of corn seedling emergence went with little to no success. Instead, a backyard garden study was conducted to investigate the speed of emergence from corn planted at one, two, three, and four inches deep. Four corn seeds were planted at each depth in a heavy clay loam and essentially flooded with water immediately after planting. Soil temperatures were around 70ºF, which was ideal yet the moisture situation was far from ideal. This study revealed that all seeds had emerged within 6 hours of one another at one, two and three inches deep. The four inch deep seeds never emerged. After 2 weeks, no visual differences in height or growth stage were observed among the different depths. The results were shown and evident at the field day. To this Agronomist, 6 hours is not a significant amount of time to state that one inch planted corn emerges faster than three inch planted corn.

    Soil Temperature

    Soil temperature can drastically influence a seed’s ability to germinate. It is common knowledge that seed germination processes begin when soil temperatures are approximately 50ºF. One would also believe that the deeper into the soil profile, the colder the soil temperature becomes. However, when you inspect the top couple inches, one could argue that there is minimal difference in temperature. Research was conducted to investigate two different depths (0.4 and 2.0 inches) for weed seedling emergence. During this study, the researchers collected soil temperatures in two tillage systems – conventional (figure 1) and no-till (figure 2). The results show minor differences in soil temperature.

    Figure 1


    Figure 2

    Soil Moisture

    The only time soil moisture can negatively impact germination is when soils are extremely dry or wet. When soils are dry, the recommendation would be to plant deeper (perhaps even deeper than two inches) until a uniform level of soil moisture can be achieved. Soils that are extremely sandy or variable soils with sandy hills deal with dry soils on an annual basis. The idea is to make sure that all seeds are planted at a level where adequate soil moisture can be reached for proper germination. (Remember that seeds need to imbibe roughly 30-50% of its weight in water to begin germination.)


    By now I hope to have you brainwashed into believing that planting at one inch can be hazardous and will gain no advantage. I’m not recommending planting at four inches deep, but I hope that there are fewer concerns if corn mistakenly gets planted “too deep.” Planting at 1.5 to 2 inches will generally provide the most uniform environment for consistent germination. And every grower knows that high yields begin with uniformity in germination.


  • Planter Insecticide Calibration

    It's about time to calibrate insecticide for planters.  Please contact us to schedule an appointment @ 319 723 4221

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