Poor Corn Emergence

It is frustrating to find that major seed companies don’t have a level of quality control that matches their seed prices. With the impending wet and cold planting season that was forecast this spring, we had our equipment ready to get a jump start planting corn if that window of opportunity presented itself. April 18 – April 24 was our window and it quickly closed again until May 5. Two of the five varieties we planted failed at their first task of creating a good stand (high percentage) that emerges evenly. Gold Country 104-37 had very uneven emergence and a thin stand. Dekalb 52-85 had even emergence but, once again, a thin stand. Why don’t these companies publish a cold germ test on their seed tags? Warm germ is quite deceiving.

In this photos, taken from the top of our grain leg, you can see the difference in stand. The one on the left is obviously thinner than the one on the right. Both are Dekalb varieties.

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4 Responses to Poor Corn Emergence

  1. Mark says:

    Hi Lance,

    I hope all is good in the USA and that your harvest is going good.

    I am emailing you from Ireland.

    Me and my sister have been looking at crops and the problem of variable germination in say canola or corn due to cold wet weather / showers .

    We are trying to figure out is there anyway to help the seed at the start.

    It moves around year to year depending on the weather and I see reports of farmers who say they sowed on say Thursday but got a weekend of cold weather and now the germination is poor.

    I think the farmers know they want warm weather but at the same time they are moving through the sowing window.

    Lance, how big a problem do you think this is ?
    Have your neighbours also had this problem ?
    On your farm what do you think caused the problem ?
    We are trying to build a prototype and get some funding here in Ireland. It is a very simple solution if it works, but we have to do more work.

    Thank you,


    • Lance O. says:

      We have been warned by researchers about cold temps the first 24-48 hours after planting corn. They claim that it injures/ruptures cells in the seed and makes the plant weaker. My crop consultant is of the opinion that this is just an excuse by the seed companies for poor vigor in some of their varieties. We had 2 of the 4 varieties we planted do just fine. There is a big payoff to early planting in Minnesota so we want to push as much as we can. Not only does planting early in soils, that are fit moisture wise, help our corn yields but we can get to soybeans sooner and that pays off big in yield as well.
      To me, the best solution is really knowing your seed and how hard you can stress it in spring.

      • Mark OCarroll says:

        Thank you Lance for your reply. Do you think the poor vigour is caused by old seed , maybe left over from last year , or is it something else ? We look at the stress inside the seed and trying to reduce it , but the chemicals that can do that are expensive so I keep reading. Too , I never thought about soybeans after the corn, it is a good point. What would you think of treating the seeds on the farm before sowing them ?
        Thank you,


        • Lance O. says:

          I think that the old corn seed is handled the same as new seed and run through the process of germination testing again. Two or three years ago, Dekalb had a problem that was widespread. One farmer, that had carried over a large box of seed from the previous year, had a better stand with that than the new seed he ordered of the same variety.
          Almost all corn has a seed treatment. The organic corn does not. Soybeans are being treated more and more but, with the low crop prices, I think that may change for the coming year. We only have treated soybeans when grown for seed and there is not option otherwise.

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