With weekly rains, cloudy weather, and sunny days interspersed with morning frosts, March of 2018 hasn’t been one for the record books if the goal was to plant corn early. March planted corn can yield well if we have decent conditions for emergence, however, waiting for better conditions appears to be the right thing to do for many parts of the state. I have been tracking soil temperatures at Jackson this week in a no-till field with a light residue and in a mixed cover crop, and the results are shown below. Data indicates soil temps dipped down into the 40’s following two freezes, and fluctuating temperature combined with wet conditions isn’t ideal for corn emergence.
When corn seed imbibes water, it is susceptible to chilling injury during the first 24 to 36 hours, resulting in nonviable swollen kernels, aborted radicle growth and stand loss. Next week’s forecast shows more favorable nighttime temperatures which will improve our emergence. In areas that miss the rains, we should be able to make some progress.
Avoid planting wet. Sidewall compaction and poor furrow closure are two vigor and stand robbers that can be avoided by waiting a few days for conditions to improve. Many producers have already modified their planters with better closing wheel options, such as a spike/round combination that has been shown to improve stand in damp ground compared to the standard rubber wheels. Consider shallowing up seed depth slightly (1.7″ compared to 2″), and its always a good idea to check behind the planter to make sure seed is placed at least 1.5″ deep and the seed furrow is closing well.