Planting slightly deeper (at least 2 inches deep) can help overcome some of the moisture and temperature variability found near the soil surface in reduced-till soils. An aggressive setting for down pressure springs may be needed to keep gauge wheels in solid contact with the ground. Seed firmers can also help with seed placement in the planting slot.
Several variations of closing wheels are available to help close the planting furrow, depending on soil tilth and moisture. Spiked closing wheels tend to work better on heavy or wet soils, reducing sidewall compaction and closing the planting slot. Alternatively, growers can use one spiked wheel with one rubber wheel.
Because of its impact on stand establishment and yield, choosing a planting date is one of the most important crop management decisions for growers. Planting when the soil is too wet can interfere with row closure and cause sidewall compaction. Allocate extra time for the soil under heavy residue to dry before planting. Soil temperature data collected at Pioneer research plots show that planting at soil temperatures below 50°F often leads to reduced stands. Also, it is important to monitor weather patterns. Snow, cold rain or extended periods of cold weather after planting imposes significant stress on corn.
Good residue management practices are crucial to realize the benefits of reduced-tillage systems. Selecting the right hybrid, modifying the planter and choosing a suitable planting date all help improve stand establishment in high-residue fields. Additional information on these topics can be found in the Crop Insights articles and websites listed below.
1 Maria Stoll, Pioneer Senior Research Associate, North America Maize Product Development, Seed Science group.
2 Imad Saab, Pioneer Research Scientist, North America Maize Product Development, Seed Science group.