2018 Spring Planting Conditions

As I drove to work this week in poor winter road conditions, it’s hard to believe we are only a few weeks away from planting season. With an early corn planting date of April 11 for most of Iowa, growers will be fine tuning planters before we know it. Each year we seem to receive calls from concerned growers asking if they should plant or did we plant too soon. I’m sure this year will be no different as somewhere in the corn belt will experience some cold weather.

Every grower’s situation will be different and weighing the Pros and Cons to go early can be a difficult decision. All the benefits of getting seed in early can be erased by a few days of poor weather. So, we all know there is nothing we can do to control mother nature, however there are a few factors to consider before making your early planting decisions.

  •  Soil temp, we all know the golden rule of 50 degrees F necessary for germination. Seed exposed to cooler wet soils will run the risk of rotting in the ground.
  • Plan into a favorable weather forecast. The first 48 hours after planting are critical to seed health and will increase the survival rate if a cold spell were to hit.
  • Plant hybrids with strong vigor/emergence scores. It’s always good practice to consult your sales rep to confirm which products they recommend for early planting.
  • Avoid early planting on fields with high amounts of residue. These fields tend to warm slower and run the risk of residue preventing good soil to seed contact.
  • Emerged corn planted early always faces the risk of a late season freeze as the plants growing point will be near the ground surface.

Average last frost dates:

Iowa http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-iowa-last-frost-date-map.php

Minnesota http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-minnesota-last-frost-date-map.php

North Dakota http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-north-dakota-last-frost-date-map.php

South Dakota http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-south-dakota-last-frost-date-map.php




Hopefully we’ll have a favorable spring. However, if Mother Nature decides to throw us a few curveballs, slowdown and take a look at the big picture. As stated above, what’s best for one operation might not be the best for yours. As always contact your Prairie Brand representative with any questions.


Kendal Paulsen

Agronomy Information Specialist/Supply