As farmers going into spring, the main goal should be to plant your corn at the right time. Risk management is part of your daily life, and planting is one of the risk factors that must be properly assessed. Many farmers ask, “Am I better to sow early in cold soil or wait for the ideal window and maybe risk sowing late like last year?”

The first criterion for optimum sowing and ensuring adequate emergence of the plants is to sow in soil with a minimum soil temperature of 10°C. Ideally, the soil temperature should be increasing during the following days.

There are risks associated with early planting (Nielsen, 2020). The main risk is that associated with soil temperature. When the soil temperature stays close to 10°C for days after sowing, this delays germination and can delay the emergence of young seedlings. This delay in emergence can cause population loss due to seed rot. However, if the soil temperature is below 10°C during sowing, this increases the risk of frost damage by rehydrating the seed, causing damage to the germinating seed.

This phenomenon is caused by the initial absorption of water by the seed during the first 24 to 48 hours after sowing. The resulting rehydration swells the seed and the germination process begins. This occurs regardless of the temperature of the soil. The risk of injury from cooling (freezing) of the seed is more likely to occur during the first 24 to 48 hours after sowing in moist soil, as this is when rehydration (swelling of the seed) occurs.

Have a good and safe spring!