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Cold Wet Soil Considerations


Cold Wet Soils Calls for Special Attention

For most of us in the past few weeks we have had our fair share of rain and cool temperatures. With that being said, many concerns should be considered when we get back into the fields. Nitrogen losses due to excessive rainfall, soil applied pesticide interactions, and germinations issues. 

Nitrogen loss due to excessive rainfall is always difficult to determine how much has actually been lost. At this point growers may want to consider applying extra nitrogen with preplant applications or side dress applications. There are many factors that all need to be considered when considering adding extra nitrogen for this year’s corn crop. The following factors need to be considered:

  1. Was fall applied anhydrous ammonia applied and was nitrification inhibitors used? 
  2. Has spring applied nitrogen been applied already this year and has nitrification inhibitors been used?

If nitrification inhibitors have been used with fall applications, they have slowed the rate of nitrification, but it is safe to say a fair amount has been lost to this point.
If spring applied nitrogen has already been applied, leaching of nitrogen is a concern from recent excessive rainfall and flooding conditions.
For more information regarding nitrogen losses please visit: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/?p=160

This year there has been an increased interest in soil applied insecticides applied to Bt corn hybrids. Last year I conducted several on-farm strip trials to test the benefits of using a soil applied insecticide on Bt corn hybrids. All the hybrids that were tested contained a rootworm Bt event. All the hybrids last year had a 7-10 bu/A increase in yield. But last year was much different from this year in all regards. With increased interest in soil applied insecticides extra considerations needs to be considered this year with current soil conditions. First off we need to make sure that our soil applied insecticides are not going to interact with our preemergent herbicide. For example Counter insecticide’s label has a warning statement that if a HPPD (ex. Callisto containing products) preemergent herbicide is used severe crop injury is likely to occur. For more information regarding insecticide/herbicide interactions please visit: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/?p=344

Cold wet soil conditions present many problems for germination and early seedling growth. These potential problems may result: preplant herbicide injury, seed root, seedling diseases, soil compaction, and soil crusting. Cold wet soil conditions drastically impacts how fast a corn seed will germinate. We all know that soil conditions need to be at or above 50 °F. Any one or combination of potential problems stated above is going to be an impact on final yield of the corn crop. Cold wet soil conditions will slow that rate a seedlings ability to metabolize corn herbicides thus increase the chances for herbicide injury.

Seeding rots are potential problem if soils are saturated for extended periods of time if corn has already been planted. Seedling diseases like Pythium, common smut, and crazy top are likely to occur. Soil compaction is real problem with any piece of equipment trip across a field that is made. Some examples of soil compaction but are not limited to would be compaction from tire tracks of any piece of equipment and sidewall compaction from planters. Soil crusting can also be a real problem for corn seedlings. Crusting will slow or worst cases completely inhibit germination.  For more information of cold wet soil conditions please visit: http://www.aganytime.com/Corn/Pages/Article.aspx?name=Cold,_Saturated_Soil_Effects_on_Corn_Germination_&_Emergence&fields=article&article=638

 For further questions or concerns about current crop plans please contact myself or your local United Prairie Sales Agronomist.


Eric Beckett – United Prairie Innovation Agronomist

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