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Keep your eyes on the soil wetness

This time of year, it’s tempting to get into fields and plant like crazy. Just make sure your field is ready first.

“Every year, there are costly mechanical mistakes made at planting,” says A.J. Woodyard, BASF technical crop production specialist. “By that, I mean going into a field when it’s too wet. That causes compacted (soil) layers that affect (later) root development.”

Damage can also be caused by compaction tracks left by fertilizer spreaders entering excessively wet fields, he says.

“All of these things impact root development and water management as a whole,” he says. “Normally with a corn plant, you expect roots to go out at a 35-degree angle. When they first go straight out horizontally and then straight down (caused by compacted soils), you have a problem.”

Soggy spring’s work isn’t the only culprit when it comes to compacting soils. Tilling wet fields in the fall is also a suspect.

“Then, if you come in during the springtime and work it again when it’s too wet, you put in a horizontal tillage layer that forces roots to grow out before they go down.”


Working wet fields isn’t the only way root growth is negatively impacted. Woodyard recalls one on-farm field call he was on where the farmer was puzzled that parts of a corn field sprayed with fungicide were green and healthy, while other field areas also sprayed with the fungicide were dying.

“So, we dug roots and found severe rootworm damage,” he says.

Even if corn rootworm wasn’t a problem in your fields in 2015, watch for it this year.

“Corn rootworm can make a big swing in a year’s time,” says Sean Evans, Monsanto technology development manager. “It can quickly go from a low population to a high one.”

(Source – http://www.agriculture.com/content/be-patient-with-wet-fields)

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