After a promising start, 2020’s planting season is, unfortunately, shaping up to be a lot like 2019 in some parts of South Dakota, Asgrow/Dekalb technical agronomist Gary Hegg said.
Hegg, who is based in Aberdeen has been continuing to help producers through the COVID-19 pandemic and other spring challenges. While farmers have to keep working regardless of the pandemic, Hegg said keeping everyone safe, especially those who cannot afford to have a family member sick, has been a challenge.
“We’re exercising social distancing and proper PPE to ensure everyone is staying safe,” he said.
On the physical side of farming, Hegg has seen a lot of his territory flip from the norm, as his southern regions are drier than his northern area. Farmers south of Highway 12 have had better luck getting corn in on time.
The trouble has been, amongst other things, that the weather cannot seem to make up its mind. Since late April, there have been highs in the 80s and lows down to 27 degrees. While corn can survive this rapid shift in temperature, Hegg said its still a good idea to check the condition of the seed in cold, wet soil. Cold temperatures can delay emergence in corn and soybeans, leading to lower seedling vigor and higher risk for soil born fungal pressures.
One of the main things Hegg and other agronomists have been on the lookout for this planting season is soil temperature. Ideally, corn should be planted into soil that is at least 50 degrees. Recently, he has been testing fields as low as 40 degrees.
“Ideally on soybeans, you want 55, so planting into the cold soil isn’t ideal and is delaying emergence,” he said.
Hegg said that while supply movement in the COVID-19 crisis wasn’t an issue early on and most farmers were able to get their seed on time, he is a bit concerned that if farmers need to change their maturity level that the supply lines may be tight on certain hybrids. However, because of how wet 2018 and 2019 were, he said that many seed companies have had practice with farmers needing to quickly switch as planting season progresses.
“We had good practice in 2019 moving our hybrids around,” he said.
Another side effect of the cold, wet weather has been the halting of spring spraying. Many fields became too wet to get into. Hegg said South Dakota is generally good with aerial herbicide applications, but he suspects many will wait to apply.
For those waiting to plant, Hegg said it’s key to plant only into proper soil conditions.