Average soil temperatures are too low for drilling maize just yet warns Simon Preece, Corteva Promoter in SW England and South Wales. The recent dry weather means the land is workable but don’t be tempted to drill in the open for at least another week or two.
Temperature is paramount for maize and its seed needs soil temperatures to be above 10°C to grow. This week’s average soil temperature is well under this, and several degrees below comparative readings in the previous four years. Daytime air temperatures are forecast to reach the early teens, but by dropping back to low single figures at night, soil temperatures will be slow to rise.
During this critical time period, Corteva works with farmers in major maize-growing areas to measure weekly soil temperatures in order to offer specialist advice on when best to drill this year’s crop. Temperatures are taken at the daily temperature mid-point of 10am and at a typical drilling depth of 2.5cm.
Simon Preece advises patience: “All Pioneer’s maize seed undergoes the ‘Pioneer Stress Test’ and are tolerant of soil temperatures down to 10°C. This test offers farmers the reassurance they need to drill when soil temperatures reach that minimum level, but not before. As well as inhibiting growth, drilling into cold seedbeds increases the risk of Pythium causing seed and root rot.
“If you’re keen to harvest before the colder weather at the end of the growing season, early planting is not the answer. Choosing a variety with an earlier flowering date is a better solution.”
Pioneer’s earliest maturing variety, P7326, gives good, early yields of high-quality silage. It can be grown in almost all conditions, including colder locations; its reliability making it Pioneer’s biggest-selling variety. For those wanting a dent-type variety, producing silage easier for rumen bacteria to degrade, P7034 has been bred specifically for our cool, maritime conditions. Both varieties continue to show encouraging results in the on-going PACTS® trials, testing varieties in a range of conditions.
To keep up to date with the weekly situation, contact Simon Preece on 07813 142957 or your local Pioneer Seed supplier.