The first day of baseball is here yet the snow is still piled high at the end of my driveway. When are you going to get into the field? That is a familiar question that seems to be asked quite a bit. My response is always “when the soil is ready”. Last year we were two weeks ahead of normal planting time. This year we will most likely be two weeks behind, no worries, we learn to adjust and make it work. Patience, we must exhibit patience and stay out of the field or garden until things are dry enough so we do not pack down the soil. What we could use is a nice two inch rain to draw the frost out of the ground and improve our sub-soil moisture to ensure great seed emergence when we do get in to plant.
One of the most common mistakes that occur in the spring is pulling the trigger too early and causing compaction that inhibits the root structure of the plant to drive deep into the soil. Did you know that in a corn plant the roots can reach as deep as five feet beneath the soil? If soil compaction occurs at the time of planting the root structure tends to go more horizontal instead of vertical, thus the plants mineral uptake is limited to the top 6-12 inches of the soil. Why does this matter? The development of the plant becomes unstable in many respects. Most of the potassium and phosphorous uptake occurs from secondary roots thus creating a stronger plant that can ward off wind (which creates lodging). Brace roots (roots at the base of the plant) are much stronger and better developed which helps alleviate lodging. These all play the role of a better more uniform product when it comes time to harvest the corn.
Remember, it is the little things that add up. You do enough small things right and the reward of having a nice, marketable crop comes tenfold. Have patience my friend, it is a virtue.