Across Iowa this past winter, farmers attending Iowa State University Extension meetings gathered a lot of good information to help prepare for the 2013 planting season. Focus was on the continuing drought and low subsoil moisture reserves following the extremely dry weather of 2012. The January 2013 U.S. drought monitor maps showed drought still persisted across Iowa to a greater extent than in 2012.
Thankfully, this spring the rains and snow that finally arrived during March and April have helped reduce drought severity in many parts of Iowa. The April 16 U.S. Drought Monitor reflects significant improvement. Topsoil moisture conditions have subsequently improved across Iowa, but subsoil moisture in many areas of the state remains in short to very short supply, according to the weekly survey by USDA's National Ag Statistics Service, or NASS.
As Iowa farmers get ready for field conditions to dry and soils to warm up enough so they can get started planting corn and soybeans, ISU Extension corn agronomist Roger Elmore provides the following information. He addresses the frequently asked questions and concerns farmers are asking about.
Tillage: Every tillage pass you make in a field results in moisture loss
Every tillage pass results in soil moisture loss through evaporation. If dry conditions persist at planting in your area, excessive tillage may evaporate precious soil moisture. Keep tillage to a minimum if climatologists forecast dry weather for the rest of the growing season. No-till farmers will likely not have a problem finding good soil moisture conditions at normal seeding depths; however, those with some degree of tillage may need to consider planting at deeper seeding depths to reach moisture unless their topsoil has been replenished with recent rain and or snow.
Hybrid: Stick with adapted maturity corn hybrids for your area of the state
As discussed in an earlier ICM News article, farmers in southern Corn Belt locations (states to the south of Iowa) often plant very early corn hybrid maturities to avoid heat and drought normally experienced in August.
Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.