When is the best time to plant? Somewhere between April 10 and May 31 for corn and for soybean April 10 (southern Iowa) and April 15 (northern 2/3 of Iowa) to June 15. Those are according to crop insurance dates. By now you know I don’t like talking about planting dates. The calendar date doesn’t matter. What does matter is what the soil conditions are. Are the soils fit for planting? This gets at are they dry enough to avoid sidewall compaction and gauge wheel compaction. And what is the soil temperature? Look for soil temperatures that are 50 degrees and rising. Just because soil temperatures reach 50 degrees does not mean they will stay there. Both corn and soybean can have imbibitional chilling (resulting in seed death and reduced emergence) or cold injury (resulting in reduced emergence and poor seedling vigor). Wait for a warming weather forecast to give your seeds the best chance.
Now for the planting outlook. La Nina is no longer, we have moved into a neutral ENSO cycle. Typically, that means we should return to ‘normal’ spring rainfall. For some parts of the state that is good news to continue rebuilding subsoil moisture. For other parts, that will almost certainly mean some planting delays.
Getting a jump on planting when field conditions are right will be important in 2023. Hedge your bets on which crop to plant first. If you feel you can plant all your corn and soybean acres before May 20, the research shows both corn and soybean have high yield potential. However, if you think weather delays will push planting past May 20; plant your corn first. After May 20, corn has a much more severe yield potential penalty compared to soybean.
Look into seed germination percentages. Companies are required to include warm germination scores on the seed tag. The warm germination percentage is essentially if you plant your seed in ideal soil temperatures and don’t get cold temperatures following planting. If you want to push planting earlier into potential cooler or wetter soils, have a cold germination or cold saturated germination test conducted on each seed lot. This will give you a good indicator of which seed lots will perform better in less favorable planting conditions.
After planting, get out into fields to assess plant stands. This is your opportunity to evaluate planter performance, impact of planting conditions on the plant stand, and assess if plant root growth is impeded. If planter performance is in question, you now have 11 months to decide on a solution. If you have compromised root systems, you can use these inflicted fields as sentinel fields to as early detectors of plant stressors.
Best of luck on #Plant2023!