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Planting Trees Correctly - Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Grow

Published May 30, 2013
Planting Trees Correctly - Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Grow

Planting Trees Correctly

Planting Trees Correctly

Planting a tree correctly and following recommended practices for early care are extremely important in giving the tree a good start.  Besides selecting the right tree for the environment it is very important to plant it at the proper depth. The root collar should be just above the soil layer. The root collar is at the bottom of the main stem which slightly flares out just before the roots begin. When planting trees there is a rhyme that goes as follows: plant too high the tree will die; plant too low and the tree will not grow.  When planting bare root trees, inspect the root growth pattern. Sometimes there are roots that look like they may eventually circle and girdle the tree as it matures. Just sever these roots. Also, with bare root stock, make sure there is good root to soil contact.  Another recommendation is to apply a three-inch deep layer of mulch around the base of new plantings just beyond the drip line. A recent assessment by the North Dakota Forest Service showed that mulching has a beneficial effect on the ability of newly planted maple varieties to withstand adverse weather conditions. Wood mulch helps to conserve moisture, limits sod competition and creates a buffer around the tree reducing the chance of accidental contact with lawn care equipment that can injure or girdle a tree. Rock mulch is not preferred, since it can physically harm trees as they grow and may raise soil alkalinity.  I frequently am asked the question “How often or how much water should I give the tree?” This is a tough one to answer because soil type, size of the tree, species, and rainfall all must be considered. Clay soils have the ability to hold more water than sandy soils thus less frequent watering is needed.  As a general rule of thumb, my NDSU tree consultants have suggested giving a new tree one to two gallons of water per inch diameter for the first few weeks. After this period, apply about twice that amount under the tree’s drip line every four days or so until August. Stopping supplemental watering at this time encourages the tree to properly harden off prior to the winter months.  In our quest to give a newly transplanted tree a good start, I occasionally find some trees receive too much water which can deprive tree roots of needed oxygen. If you can form a mushy mudball, the soil is likely too wet for most trees.

Low Growing Degree Days Not Helping Corn Growth

Corn requires about 122 degree days (dd) to emerge. If planted deeper than two inches or for fields with moderate to heavy residue the dd will be slightly higher. During the period of May 16-27, accumulated dds in the Williston/Sidney area was around 115-120.  Corn growing dds can be used to predict emergence and leaf appearance in most environments. North Dakota data suggests that new leaves appear after about 70 dd. Degree days are running behind normal for the latter half of May. This may be good news for small grains but not for corn. Not only is above ground development of corn delayed by cool weather but the root system is also impacted. It is not unusual for corn to appear yellow and nutrient deficient when soil temperatures hover around 50 degrees. Extensive root development is needed for the corn plant to find and take up much needed phosphorus. Even when a pop-up fertilizer is applied, the plants may appear yellow until temperatures warm and root growth increases.

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