May 22, 2024

Farmers should weigh soil compaction risks, corn planting dates

MONROE CITY, Ind. — Whether to plant early or wait is a choice every farmer faces, and it’s not always an easy one.

Planting into wet fields can cause soil compaction, which can sometimes lead to yield loss.

“Compacted soils can limit the ability of plant roots to grow into new soil to extract water and nutrients,” said Dan Emmert, Pioneer field agronomist.

“This can reduce the amount of the soil profile that is available to contribute to supplying water and nutrients for crop growth.”

According to Iowa State University, in favorable years, moisture availability, well-timed rain and fertilizer use can mask the effects of soil compaction.

In unfavorable years, however, yields can be reduced by as much as 20%, potentially outweighing the drawbacks of late planting.

While planting within the optimum window can impact corn yield anywhere from 2% to 5%, three other factors are also important to optimizing yield at planting:

1. Uniform emergence — 5% to 9%.

2. Correct population — 1% to 2%.

3. Uniform plant spacing — 1% to 2%.

Growers should consider all factors when planting and not rush to a decision to meet a certain time frame, according to Pioneer.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor