They say there are never two years exactly alike in agriculture, and I believe it. The 2023 growing season started with varying levels of soil moisture and highly variable rain events across the GROWMARK trade territory, but one thing has been consistent — the unseasonably cold temperatures.
As I talk to people across the eastern third of the country, it’s hard to not notice the shift in farmers planting soybeans before corn. I personally think in a year like this, that is the right decision. Soybeans are much more tolerant to late emerging plants and uneven stands than corn. Soybeans are phenomenal compensators, especially when planted early. They will add branches and nodes to capture every inch of available space. I have seen quality seed treatments protect soybean seeds from diseases like Pythium, Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia while they lay in the ground for weeks after planting before temperatures foster emergence. Seed treatments like Saltro and Ilevo also combat Fusarium infections that cause the disease Sudden Death Syndrome. Fusarium usually thrives in cool, wet soil conditions.
As great as these treatments are, the extreme persistent cold can push them to their limits in some fields. Like all chemistries, seed treatments eventually break down in the environment. This process is highly dependent on soil temperature and moisture levels. Under warm, moist conditions some seed treatments can break down in as little as two weeks; however, those same conditions also allow the crop to emerge and establish in a week. Luckily, under cooler conditions, which favor slower emergence, seed treatments are generally more persistent and last around three weeks.
It is going to be worth keeping an eye on those corn or soybean fields that were planted around April 10 and still have not emerged yet. As I write on May 1, there aren’t temperatures predicted for rapid emergence until the second week of May. With the predicted warmup coming about a month after some fields were planted, it will be critical to follow up those first planted fields with scouting. The long, cool, damp conditions before emergence will also push seed- applied insecticides to their limits. Pests like seed corn maggot and wire worm may become an issue for some of the corn seeds that have laid in the soil for a month.
If you have any questions about scouting for diseases and pests, or the economic thresholds, reach out to your local FS crop specialist.