NDSU Extension - Burke County


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Don’t Rush Field or Garden Work & Soil Temperatures for Germination

County Agent News
Dan Folske
April 16, 2018

Don’t Rush Field or Garden Work

            It is finally supposed to warm up this week but it is not looking like an early start for field or garden work. Have Patience! I know we are not overly wet but anytime of soil disturbance when conditions are too wet means increased soil compaction in wheel tracks or from tillage. A rototiller in a garden or any type of tillage Sunimplement in the field is going to leave hard lumps, especially in clay soils with low organic matter. Planting too early will just result in delayed emergence and a greater chance of seedling diseases. Weeds which can germinate in cooler soil conditions than the seeded crop or vegetable will get a head start on the crop too.

            Decisions about early season weed control need to be based on present and past weed problems. If you have many winter annuals, you will need to take care of them either with tillage or a chemical burn down as soon as field conditions permit. If your primary weeds are perennials or warm season plants you may want to delay herbicide applications until the weeds are emerged and growing.

Soil Temperatures for Germination - The minimum soil temperatures for germination of various crops or groups of crops is 40 degrees for spring wheat, durum, barley, canola, mustard, safflower, field peas and lentils; 45 degrees for oats, chickpeas, and sunflowers; 48 degrees for flax, and 50 degrees for corn, soybeans and dry beans.  Optimal soil temperatures for germination and emergence are about 5 to 10 degrees warmer.

When seeding into soils at or near the minimum germination temperature for the crop, consider the use of basic seed treatment products.  Seed planted into cooler soil will take longer to germinate and emerge, which means that it will have greater exposure to soil pathogens. If the soil is wet, this will also favor the activity of many soil-borne pathogens.  Seed treatment will help provide protection against these pathogens, which can reduce stands due to seed rots and seedling blights.  It will also help protect the seed or seedling if we run into adverse conditions following seeding which further delays emergence, such as a cool, wet spell or a late spring snow storm.

Most seed treatment products are registered for on-farm use, either for drill box application or to be applied in a mist or slurry with an auger treater. For information on current seed treatment products registered on all crops in North Dakota, check the 2010 North Dakota Field Crop fungicide Guide (Extension Circular PP-622) available at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/extplantpath/ .  Always read the label carefully and follow the label directions for application procedures, rates, and specific diseases controlled.

Producers are reminded that information on soil temperatures can be obtained from the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) station.  Current soil temperatures under bare ground, average daily soil temperatures, and soil temperatures under turf can be obtained at the NDAWN website which is http://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu .

Soil temperatures at the Bowbells station as of Monday, April 16nd were 32F at 4 inches under bare ground and under turf.



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