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Competency Area 4: Seeding Factors

PO 20. Recognize the consequences of seeding major Northeast crops too early or too late.

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spring seeding late summer seeding frost seeding
Spring seeding Late summer seeding Frost seeding

Consequences of seeding forage crops in the Northeast too early or too late
Seeding too early in cold, wet spring soils can reduce germination. Seeding too late in the spring will risk the multiple stresses of high temperature, lack of moisture and weak competition.
Advantages of late summer seedings include 1) less competition from weeds; 2) seedings can be made after early-harvested crops; 3) avoids the spring workload; 4) Liming, fertilization and tillage are done during drier weather, reducing soil compaction risk; and 5) damping-off diseases of seedlings are usually not a problem. The primary disadvantage is available moisture. Also, if seedings are too late in the season to allow for 6 weeks of growth before a killing frost, there is a risk of winterkill, particularly with species such as reed canarygrass, with slow growing, weak seedlings, and white mold.
The primary advantage of frost seeding is low cost, the primary disadvantage is high risk of seeding failure.

Consequences of seeding corn, soybeans, and wheat too early:
Seeding too early can lead to reduced plant stands of corn and soybeans. Chilling stress during imbibition may reduce germination. Extended emergence time because of cool temperatures make both corn and soybeans more susceptible to seed corn maggot/wireworm damage and plant pathogen damage, reducing corn and soybean emergence and final stands. Early-season pests such as cutworm and slugs can further reduce stands after emergence because corn growth is slow during early vegetative growth under cool conditions and corn cannot outgrow these pests. Chilling stress on the emerged crop may further reduce stands.

Seeding wheat too early can lead to increased potential for pest problems in winter wheat. Aphids can transmit BYDV in early-seeded winter wheat, which can lead to 30% yield reductions. Hessian fly can infect early-planted wheat and can take plants out in the spring. There is also a higher potential for powdery mildew. Too much fall growth could also result in smothering of the crop in the winter and early spring

Seeding too early can also increase the potential for early-season frost problems. Corn and soybeans have a higher probability of encountering a late spring killing frost. Frost does not affect winter wheat until the growing point is above the ground, so early-season frost is not a factor.

Consequences of seeding too late:
If corn and soybeans are seeded to late there is a high probability the crop will not mature, leading to yield reduction and crop quality reduction (low test weight in corn and reduced oil/protein content of soybeans). This also leads to higher drying costs for corn and perhaps soybeans will have to be dried (usually no need to dry soybeans).

Delayed harvest and exposure to a premature frost requires the crop to lose more moisture so longer dry down period. Corn and soybean harvest can be delayed until December or even January or February. Seeding too late also leads to a high probability spring grains encounter more heat/moisture stress during flowering and grain-filling period. This also results in a yield reduction for the winter wheat crop. There is a higher probability for overwintering problems because of limited growth in the fall. Yield is reduced due to lower stand. Pest problems may be reduced so the crop may be able to compensate a bit for lower yields. A 1-week delay in maturity may or may not mean more heat/water stress during flowering and grain-filling.