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Corn+Soybean Digest

Stand Establishment And Soil Compaction Challenges May Crop Up This Spring

Cool, wet weather conditions are expected to continue this spring, which may result in stand establishment and soil compaction concerns for many Hoosier farmers, says Corey Gerber, director of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center at Purdue University.

“Typically, those farmers who need to prepare ground for the planting season are in the fields about now, but not this year,” says Gerber. “It’s just too wet. With these wet conditions, either on ground needing spring tillage or on no-till ground, farmers may be left with the decision of getting seed into the ground at the risk of soil compaction.”

Soil compaction restricts rooting depth of corn and soybean plants and, because of this, limits soil moisture availability to the plants later in the growing season, Gerber explains. “When compaction issues are combined with cool temperatures, the seed will tend not to germinate as quickly as we would like,” he says. “This is when diseases and insects like wireworm and seed corn maggot readily attack the seed, potentially resulting in uneven stand establishment and lower plant populations than originally desired.”

If this occurs, producers may need to think about replanting and that’s a tough decision to make, he adds. “When considering whether to replant or not, a producer needs to take into account the extent of damage, the original plant population, the original planting date, expected replanting date, expected replanting costs, the expected market price and the expected yield,” Gerber says.

The 2008 Purdue Extension Corn and Soybean Field Guide provides guidance and tools that can help make some of these tough decisions a bit simpler for farmers. The pocketbook-sized, in-field reference is still available for purchase and will provide applicable information for row-crop producers, crop specialists and educators throughout the Corn Belt.

The field guide includes photos for easier identification of insects, weeds, plant diseases, herbicide injuries and nutrient deficiencies. The pesticide tables, which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, have been updated for 2008, and a few minor adjustments have been made to the fertility section. "This publication has a lot of practical information for people in production agriculture," Gerber says.

The field guide is $6, and can be ordered from the Purdue Education Store at or by calling 888-EXT-INFO. A form for mail orders can be downloaded at For questions and more information, contact Gerber at 765-496-3755 or

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