Although soil moisture conditions are dry in many areas, seed shallow to promote rapid and uniform crop emergence. Soil temperatures should average 5°C over the coolest and warmest parts of the day. Cool soil temperatures will slow emergence, putting seedlings at more risk from seedling diseases and insect attack. As well, protection from most seed treatments starts when the seeds are first put into the soil, not when the plant emerges. Therefore, the longer the seeds are in the ground, the shorter the duration of insecticide protection following emergence. Make sure seeding rates are high enough to achieve a target plant population of 10 plants/ft².
If seeding early into cold soils, consider the following strategies:
Chasing moisture at this point of the season is not the way to go in cold soils. If seeding operations must continue it is best to seed shallow and wait for spring rains.
Target a consistent seeding depth of ½” to 1”. It may be necessary to slow down to achieve this consistency.
Maintain a reasonable seeding rate or potentially bump seeding rates up by 10% since early seasons’ stresses can reduce emergence.
Because of changing soil conditions and the potential for mechanical issues with drills, check the seeding depth periodically, particularly when moving field to field.