As spring emerges, so can emergence issues if growers don’t focus on mitigating the stresses of early planting and high residue, according to experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.
Early planting can be appealing to growers with many acres to plant who want to get ahead of spring rains like those in 2011. In addition, early planting can provide potential benefits, such as more time for crop development and the potential to help reduce the effects of mid-summer droughts in some years.
“Predicting the best time to plant can be tricky, as each growing season provides unique environmental challenges,” said Imad Saab, Pioneer research scientist in crop genetics, research and development. “Emergence can be delayed or reduced if planting conditions are less than ideal, and this commonly leads to yield loss for the grower.”
To maximize emergence, Saab recommends growers avoid planting until soil temperatures are 50 degrees or more, and preferably with a near-term warming trend. Studies have shown decreased emergence rates with cooler soils or when an extended cold front moves in right after planting.
When calculating temperatures, residue also can have a negative impact. Growers also need to manage residue to speed up soil warming and drying during the critical planting season. Pioneer research has documented that residue over the seed furrow can reduce soil temperatures by 10 degrees or more, leading to delayed emergence and possible stand loss.
Residue can create additional challenges to crop emergence and uniformity. These can include uneven germination and emergence, the promotion of seedling disease by harboring disease pathogens that are favored by excess water and colder soils, uneven planting depth and poor seed-to soil-contact, leading to uneven emergence and possible appearance of runt plants.
“As no-till practices grow in popularity, growers need to employ good residue management practices to avoid these challenges,” Saab says.
Good residue management can range from using row cleaners to clear the planting row of residue to possibly planting slightly deeper to overcome moisture and temperature variability while ensuring good seed-to-soil contact. In addition, Saab recommends planting well-drained, low-residue fields first as well as avoiding working the soil when wet to minimize compaction and sidewall smearing.
Choosing a hybrid with the right trait package for high-residue environments also is key. Pioneer assigns stress emergence scores to help growers choose products for early planting or fields with a history of cold stress challenges. Pioneer also assigns high-residue suitability ratings based on a combination of the following trait scores: stress emergence, northern corn leaf blight, anthracnose stalk rot, gray leaf spot and Diplodia ear rot.
In addition, Pioneer offers the Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment (PPST) to growers, providing a unique combination of insecticide, fungicide and other options to help customers avoid the challenges of early-season planting. For more information on PPST on both corn and soybean products, contact your local Pioneer sales professional.
“While the growing environment always will be difficult to predict, deciding which hybrids to plant, when to plant them and how to manage them in a high-residue environment can go a long way in helping a grower achieve a successful crop,” Saab said.