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Slow-germinating seedlings in cool soils need power to push through crust.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

May 23, 2014

2 Min Read

One week ago the concern was whether corn planted in conventional or minimum tillage that received a two and one-half inch rain on top of it would come through crusting soils.

One farmer took to the field with a pocket knife to see what was happening below the surface. He found one plant leafed out in a really hard area on the end rows, below ground. No chemicals had been applied so it was likely the plant trying to push its way up and through the soil.

Related: Is There a Magic Number When it Comes to Seed Depth?

However, in the field proper he uncovered seedling after seedling straight up, but still about an inch below the surface. He had planted two inches deep.


Two things likely bailed him out. First, he received rain during the Wednesday round of thunderstorms last week. Second, his soil is a loam soil that even though it crusts, doesn't crust as hard as a low organic matter, 'while', somewhat poorly drained Crosby soil.

The problem now is what about corn planted last week before the heavy rain. Some places in central Indiana, near Lebanon, received more than three inches Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the soils in that area contain more clay in the surface soil and tend to be more prone to crusting. Time will tell if it dries out and warms up, if the soil bakes the rows shut over the seedling, or if they can come through.

Related: This Spring is All about Seed Depth

Looking for tiny, emerging seedlings is more delicate than looking for seeds. The row may be almost obliterated by the past heavy rain and soil movement in conventional or minimum tillage conditions.

Once you start scratching away at the surface, it takes patience to find the germinated coleoptiles pushing through the soil without breaking them off. You will also likely find some weed seedlings germinating and trying to break through the soil surface as well.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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