From the test plots in Cold Water, Michigan, Missy Bauer offers three tips for starting your seed off right.
(This is from a Pam Fretwell interview with Missy which recently appeared in the Farm Journal Ag-Web Online.)
In south central Michigan, Missy says, cold weather was the biggest factor in deciding when to put the seed in the ground. Michigan experienced the coldest February on record, this issue is compounded by a large percentage of ice coverage over the Great Lakes, which makes for a delayed, cooler spring.
Missy offers three pieces of advice to farmers waiting to get into the fields.
Wait for average soil temps to reach 50 degrees.
Missy says, “We really try to hold guys back, if they can, and wait for those soil temperatures reach 50 degrees.” She notes, some guys put the seed in the ground as soon as the temps hit 50 degrees only to have the temps drop back down to the 40s and even upper-30s for a few days. That’s a little scary, she admits.
If you can avoid cold and wet, do it!
The cold doesn’t bother Missy as much as cold and wet conditions. Cold and wet, she says, is a bad recipe and can negatively affect germination.
Test seed quality.
Missy encourages farmers to send their seed in for quality testing, especially if you plan to put your seed in early while temperatures could still drop below that 50 degree mark. Specifically, she notes, you want to check for good saturated cold scores and cold germination scores.