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Soil temperature. Corn and soybean seeds will germinate and emerge slowly and unevenly when soil temperatures are less than optimal. Under cool soil conditions, seeds may remain dormant for several weeks, leaving them vulnerable to diseases, insects, and animal predators.
Soil moisture. Soil should be moist but not saturated for planting. Planting into soils that are too wet has several downsides:
Seedbed preparation. Tilling fields when soil is too wet can cause soil compaction, which can result in decreased seedling germination and restricted root growth and nutrient uptake.
Planting depth. Soil temperature and moisture factor into planting depth.
Starter fertilizer. Early planted corn can benefit from starter fertilizers. The greatest benefits from starter fertilizer occur in cool, wet soils when seedling development will be slower.
Benefits of early planting of soybeans. Earlier planting dates typically have the potential to produce higher soybean yields due to the following factors:
Soybean planting dates. The University of Nebraska recommends to plant your soybeans as close to May 1st as possible. Approximately 1/2 bu/acre/day of yield potential can be lost for every day after May 1 that planting occurs.1 Benefits of early planting of corn. Planting corn early can result in the following benefits:
These benefits are lost with late planting, with a commensurable loss of potential yield to the magnitude of 1 to 2 bu/acre/day past the optimum planting window.2
Corn planting dates. In general, the optimum planting period for corn in Nebraska is between May 1 to May 15. This window can be adjusted slightly earlier for southeastern and south central Nebraska and slightly later for northern Nebraska. When conditions are permittable, farmers may be able to capitalize on the yield benefits by planting earlier, but remember to consider the early planting restrictions in your crop insurance policy (which is April 10th or April 15th depending on location), which is the earliest date of planting where you can still qualify for a replanting payment in the event of a crop loss.
1Specht, J., Rees, J., Grassini, P., and Mueller, N. 2015. Soybean planting tips for optimal yield 2015. CropWatch. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.http://cropwatch.unl.edu/soybean-planting-tips-optimal-yield-2015.
2Bernards, M., Ferguson, R., and Glewen, K. 2007. Delayed corn planting — costs and considerations. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Crop Watch.
Nielsen, R. L. 2000. Corn growth & development: what goes on from planting to harvest? Purdue University; 2013. The Penn State agronomy guide, 2013-2014. Pennsylvania State University.
Elmore, R., Specht, J., Rees, J., Grassini, P., and Glewen, K. 2014. Why planting soybean early improves yield potential. CropWatch. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. http://cropwatch.unl.edu/why-planting-soybean-early-improves-yield-potential.