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Understanding Emergence & Stand Problems in No-Till Corn R.L. (Bob) Nielsen Agronomy Dept., Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150 ph. (765) 494-4802.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Emergence & Stand Problems in No-Till Corn R.L. (Bob) Nielsen Agronomy Dept., Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150 ph. (765) 494-4802."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Emergence & Stand Problems in No-Till Corn R.L. (Bob) Nielsen Agronomy Dept., Purdue University West Lafayette, IN ph. (765) Internet:

2 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 2 A Common No-Till Lament…. “Getting a good stand of no-till soybeans is easy, but... Getting a good stand of no-till corn can be a pain in the rear!”

3 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 3 Why Worry About Variable Stand Establishment? Only because uniform and vigorous stands of corn are required for attaining optimum yields.

4 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 4 Yield Loss From Variable Stands... Regardless of tillage, uneven stand establishment in corn reduces yield potential from Day 1. –Yield losses due to uneven stand establishment can easily approach 7 to 15 bu./ac. –This yield loss cannot be recovered.

5 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 5 What is Stand Establishment Variability? Plant Spacing Variability –How evenly are the seedlings spaced? Plant Emergence Variability –Do all the seedlings emerge the same day? Plant Growth Variability –Do all the seedlings continue to grow vigorously and uniformly?

6 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 6 Successful Germination & Emergence Require... Adequate Soil Temperatures –Consistently greater than 50 o F

7 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 7 Typical Soil Temperatures

8 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 8 Soil Temperature & Corn Emergence

9 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 9 Successful Germination & Emergence Require... Adequate Soil Temperatures Adequate Soil Moisture –Too wet = Dead kernel –Just right = Germination –Too dry = Inert kernel

10 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 10 Successful Germination & Emergence Require... Adequate Soil Temperatures Adequate Soil Moisture Adequate Seed-to-Soil Contact –Seed-to-residue contact is not good! –Seed-to-rock contact is not good! –Seed-to-clod contact is not good!

11 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 11 Successful Germination & Emergence Require... Adequate Soil Temperatures Adequate Soil Moisture Adequate Seed-to-Soil Contact Pest-Free Conditions –Grubs, wireworms, seedcorn maggots –Seed rots, seedling blights

12 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 12 Germination & Emergence Success Do Not Guarantee Successful Stand Establishment! What other secrets do you know?

13 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 13 Successful Seedling Establishment Depends On Two Criteria... Healthy kernel, seed roots, and mesocotyl –Until permanent roots are established, a seedling depends primarily on the energy reserves of the kernel. –These energy reserves are translocated through the connecting mesocotyl ‘pipeline’.

14 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 14 Corn Mesocotyl Tubular, white, stemlike tissue that connects kernel and base of coleoptile. Mesocotyl cell elongation elevates coleoptile to soil surface.

15 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 15 Successful Seedling Establishment Depends On Two Criteria... Healthy kernel, seed roots, and mesocotyl Successful establishment of the permanent (nodal) root system –Adequate soil moisture –Adequate soil temperatures –Adequate soil tilth –Pest-free conditions

16 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 16 Practically-speaking, Corn Has Two Root Systems... Seminal roots originate from the first node located within the seed embryo. –Radicle root and lateral seminal roots. –Serve mainly to anchor seedling. –Minimal uptake of water & nutrients. –Cease new growth shortly after seedling emergence.

17 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 17 Practically-speaking, Corn Has Two Root Systems... Seminal roots originate from seed embryo Nodal roots originate from stalk nodes –Elongate shortly after seedling emergence. First set visible by 1-leaf collar stage –One set of roots for every below-ground node plus 1 or more above ground. –By 6-leaf collar stage, are main roots of plant.

18 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 18 Growth Stage VE (Emergence) Seminal roots Swelling of 1st nodal roots

19 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 19 Growth Stage V2 (two leaf collars) 1 2 Seminal roots 1st set of nodal roots

20 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 20 Growth Stage V5 (five leaf collars) Nodal roots 1 3 5

21 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 21 In summary, Critical Period for Seedling Establishment Is From Emergence to Knee-High Damage to the kernel or mesocotyl prior to establishment of nodal root system will stunt or kill the seedling –From about growth stage VE to about V3 Damage or stress to the 1st few sets of nodal roots can severely stunt corn plant. –From about growth stage V3 to about V6

22 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 22 Root Trivia Question... Do roots grow TOWARD water and nutrients? “Water at 1 foot, sir!” “DIVE! DIVE!”

23 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 23 Root Trivia Answer... No! Root growth occurs where conditions are favorable, not in anticipation of favorable conditions.

24 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 24 A related root question…. If roots develop where conditions are favorable, what are the primary factors that determine whether roots develop shallow or deep in the soil?

25 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 25 Root Location Depends On... In some fields, root depth is dependent on the presence of soil compaction or hard pans.

26 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 26 More importantly, Root Location Depends On... Soil temperature & moisture in May & June –Warm, dry soils encourage deep rooting. –Cool, wet soils encourage shallow rooting. Among other things, root location affects crop’s 1) nutrient uptake patterns and 2) drought tolerance.

27 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 27 What’s Different About No-Till?

28 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 28 Trash, trash, and more trash! TRASH: Stover, stubble, and other plant materials left from previous crops or weeds that directly or indirectly interferes with corn germination, emergence, & seedling growth. RESIDUE: Stover, stubble and other plant materials left from previous crops or weeds that conserve soil moisture and improve soil tilth.

29 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 29 Bad Effects of Trash... Delays soil drying and warmup –Delays or causes uneven germination –Hinders early root & shoot growth

30 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 30 If Seedling Growth is Slow... Increases exposure time to damaging soil- borne pathogens, insects or pesticides. Delays roots’ encounters with soil nutrients. Decreases the effective length of the growing season. –No-till corn is often literally younger than conventional till corn planted same day!

31 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 31 Tillage Effects on Soil Temperature No-till averaged 3-4 fewer soil-based GDD per day than plow. Over 5 weeks of growth, translates to about 2 leaf stage delay in development for no-till. Average temperatures during 1st five weeks after planting , westcentral IN Continuous corn, SiCL

32 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 32 Bad Effects of Trash... Delays soil drying and warmup Can hinder planter operation, especially when accompanied by wet soils.

33 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 33 Surface Trash and/or Wet Soil = Nightmare For Planters! Hairpinning of residue into slot –Wet residues are difficult to cut –Wet, soft soil = sponge-like cutting board –Dull coulters do not help! Pinned residue Kernel

34 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 34 Surface Trash and/or Wet Soil = Nightmare For Planters! Hairpinning of residue into slot Uneven seed depth –Caused by uneven residue distribution and/or excessive planting speeds

35 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 35 Surface Trash and/or Wet Soil = Nightmare For Planters! Hairpinning of residue into slot Uneven seed depth Decreased closing wheel effectiveness –Insufficient down pressure = Open planter slots –Excessive down pressure = Compacted furrow

36 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 36 A problem related to slot closure... Example: 1993 growing season Sandy loam soil Previous crop = Soybean Planted “on the wet side” Trouble closing the slots 25+% emerging underground Farmer: “Must be fertilizer dealer’s fault!”

37 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 37 Normal Emergers Growth stage ~ V2 Seeding depth ~ 1” Reasonable rooting

38 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 38 Delayed Emergers Leafed out underground Trying to pull itself out Fairly dense soil surface

39 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 39 Another Example Delayed emergence Leaves emerged just below soil surface, but successfully Coleoptile

40 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 40 Brush the soil away and you see... Flattened coleoptile Flattened mesocotyl Smooth compacted sidewalls “Smooth as a baby’s ….”

41 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 41 Side View of Delayed Emerger Flattened coleoptile Flattened mesocotyl Smooth compacted sidewalls

42 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 42 Top View of Delayed Emerger Seminal root growth confined to furrow

43 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 43 Surface Trash and/or Wet Soil = Nightmare For Planters! Hairpinning of residue into slot Uneven seed depth Decreased closing wheel effectiveness Sidewall compaction in furrow –Caused by double-disc openers smearing sides of furrow –Can cause delayed emergence or leafing out underground

44 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 44 Bad Effects of Trash... Delays soil drying and warmup Can hinder planter operation Surface trash harbors disease inoculum that can cause... –Seedling blights –Leaf diseases –Root and stalk rots

45 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 45 Bad Effects of Trash... Delays soil drying and warmup Can hinder planter operation Surface trash harbors disease inoculum Surface trash favors pesky critters –Slugs –Seedcorn maggot –Brown stinkbug –Stalk borer

46 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 46 You be the detective…. Originally no-till planted May 20 Northeast Indiana Corn emerged fine Began to “suffer” at “two to three” leaf stage, resulting in significant stand loss Replanted June 26 Farmer: “Must be chemical dealer’s fault!”

47 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 47 Appearance of Survivors Stunted growth Deformed growth Prominent tillering Unusual leaf stripes

48 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 48 Deformed Inner Stalk Appearance Split stalks revealed “gnarly” “innards”

49 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 49 What’s Your Diagnosis? The stunting, deformed growth, necrotic leaf stripes, tillering and “gnarly innards” are all symptomatic of physical injury near to the growing point at an early stage of development. –Hail or frost damage –Stinkbug injury –Stalk borer injury

50 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 50 So What’s A Guy To Do? Planting date

51 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 51 Planting Date Management How many no-till corn growers plant as early or earlier than in conventional tillage?

52 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 52 Planting Date Management How many no-till corn growers plant as early or earlier than in conventional tillage? After all, no-till ground supports equipment pretty dang well!

53 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 53 Planting Date Management How many no-till corn growers plant as early or earlier than in conventional tillage? Maybe we should be planting a little later than before? –Let the soil dry some. –Let the soil warm some.

54 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 54 Planting Date Management Maybe we should plant no-till soybeans before no-till corn? –No-till soybean establishment seems to be easier

55 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 55 So What’s A Guy To Do? Planting date Hybrid selection

56 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 56 Key Factors for Hybrid Selection for No-Till...  Identify consistently superior yielding hybrids, regardless of tillage system –Good hybrids in conventional tend to also be good in no-till –Multiple location or year data are important Performance on “My” farm should NOT be given the highest priority!

57 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 57 Key Factors for Hybrid Selection for No-Till...  Identify consistently superior yielding hybrids  Within that group of superior hybrids, select those with characteristics important to no-till corn production –Cold tolerance for germination/emergence –Strong seedling vigor or early growth habits –Disease tolerance or resistance

58 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 58 Key Factors for Hybrid Selection for No-Till...  Identify consistently superior yielding hybrids  Select important no-till characteristics  Seed quality has greater potential impact in no-till than in conventional tillage –The best hybrid in the world can fall apart in severe no-till situations if seed quality is poor! –Consider cold germination ratings in addition to warm germination ratings.

59 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 59 So What’s A Guy To Do? Planting date Hybrid selection Planter gadgets

60 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 60 Managing Trash & Cold, Wet Soils With Planter Gadgets Move the trash from the row area –Before or during planting –May help warm and dry row zone –May improve planter operation

61 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 61 Managing Trash & Cold, Wet Soils With Planter Gadgets Move the trash from the row area Cheat & do a little row zone tillage –Before or during planting –May help warm and dry row zone –May improve planter operation

62 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 62 Managing Trash & Cold, Wet Soils With Planter Gadgets Move the trash from the row area Cheat & do a little row zone tillage Give the closing wheels some help –Firming knives or blades –In-furrow firming wheels –Furrow sidewall shavers –Furrow finger fluffers

63 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 63 Trash Removal or Zone Tillage Are Attractive For... Troublesome no-till seed zones... –Heavy levels of surface trash Continuous corn Winter cover crops Uneven trash distribution –Poorly drained soils –Early planting (cold soils) –Cooler climates (e.g., northern Corn Belt)

64 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 64 Seed Firming Contraptions Are Attractive For... Situations where seed-to-soil contact is inadequate due to poor slot closure –Primarily wet seedbeds where you have no business being anyway!

65 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 65 Bottom Line, Planter Gadgets May... Improve seed placement –Planter sees “conventional” seedbed Improve germination success –Warmer, drier seed zone –Improved seed-to-soil contact Improve early root development –Warmer rooting zone

66 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 66 In Summary, Uniform and vigorous stands are essential for maximum corn yields. Key period for successful stand establishment is from planting to about knee-high. Stand establishment in severe no-till environments can be a challenge.

67 Feb '98 RLNielsen, Purdue Univ. 67 Purdue Agriculture “Farming is a kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God.” -- Benjamin Franklin A Parting Thought...


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