By Kayla Graham
Despite planting still being at the forefront of farming activity this 2018 season, it won’t be long until emergence slides into its place as the most pressing concern. A late spring across the United States has pushed back planting by weeks; however, things are now starting to normalize into a more recognizable growing cycle. Walking fields will still be an important part of identifying issues in your crop’s growth cycle, and with soybean’s need for warmer soil temperatures to reach germination, monitoring closely will be helpful in recognizing potential problems with emergence.
NorthStar Genetics’ Soybean Product Manager, Alan Muhs, recognizes that spring has been wet and cool, and therefore farmers need to keep an extra close eye on the long-range forecast as well as their soil temperature. In some instances, soil temps aren’t exactly suitable for quick emergence due to overnight temperatures being too low. “Mother Nature and weather always seem to be the biggest obstacle at this time of year,” he says. “Understand that we are only part of the way through May, and it’s early yet. Don’t rush through planting, know your field conditions and ten-day forecast to understand how and when things will be ready to plant.”
To improve emergence, Muhs also suggests keeping an eye on your planter during the planting process. “Always be monitoring your planter’s performance,” he says. “Many times, it seems that emergence/stand issues are caused by the planting equipment not functioning like expected. Periodically check your planting depth and plant spacing to understand if your equipment is working correctly.”
Those farmers that have completed planting shouldn’t have to wait long to see the first signs of life coming from their fields. In the case of corn, 10 to 21 days after planting stands should begin emerging. In the case of soybeans, six to 16 days will be enough to start seeing plants.
A positive sign while walking fields will be to see a congruous, even pattern. Although planting populations vary for every farmer and almost every field, Muhs points out that seeds should be germinating within 24 hours of each other. As long as they do, plants should begin poking through close to the same time. “Watch for a consistent uniform stand, consistent spacing between plants, and uniform emergence among plants within a relative time frame,” Muhs says.
Even with the most careful and precise planting tactics, the challenges of spring 2018 have been felt fairly universally throughout growing regions. Muhs acknowledges that a slow start can make farmers restless and has potentially caused some rushing throughout the planting process. However, the cool nights and evenings continue to be the biggest challenge for producers.
Muhs finishes our chat with one last reflection. “Growers won’t know they’ve had emergence issues for a few weeks yet. Our conditions aren’t yet conducive to germination of the seed. The longer we keep these cool conditions, the more we increase the risk in stand/emergence issues.”