Seedbed Preparation Key To Optimum Yields

DES MOINES, Iowa, March 31, 2010 - Excessively wet conditions in some regions this spring continue to raise growers' concerns for timely planting in favorable soil conditions, say experts at Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. However, seedbed preparation which sets the stage for optimal growth and development throughout the growing season, shouldn't be rushed.

"After a long winter, many growers will be anxious to get in the field during the first stretch of dry weather," says Ryan Clayton, Pioneer area agronomist.

Growers looking to test soil conditions should take a trowel and dig 2 to 4 inches into the soil. Taking a handful of soil from the trowel, test the soil for tackiness.

"If a ball can be formed with the soil and the shape remains rather than crumbling, soil moisture is too high," Clayton says. "The ribbon test is also a good form of measurement, squeezing the soil between the thumb and forefinger. Soils should crumble between your fingers, rather than forming a ribbon. A ribbon indicates wet soil."

Soils that crumble easily are ready for spring tillage and are favorable for planting and early growth. Planting before soil conditions are favorable can cause sidewall compaction from disk openers which leads to uneven emergence.

"Corn and soybean roots have a difficult time developing in compacted soils," Clayton says. "If roots are not able to penetrate the soil, moisture and nutrient uptake will be reduced, limiting yield potential."

If growers plant into cooler soil conditions, Pioneer experts recommend a hybrid with a strong stress emergence score.

"Hybrids with strong stress emergence scores can help manage risk when planting in cooler soil temperatures - or when planting early," Clayton says. "Hybrids with strong stress emergence scores tend to germinate more uniformly under stress conditions compared to hybrids with lower stress emergence scores."

Growers should wait until soils reach 50 F at the 2-inch depth before planting to ensure the plant gets a healthy start through proper germination.

Other management tips include adequate tire pressure. "Proper tire pressure is another key factor that can help minimize the risk of soil compaction," Clayton says. "Growers should check with their equipment and/or tire manufacturers for specific tire pressure recommendations."

Achieving optimum plant populations also can help maximize yields. If growers are planting into cooler soil temperatures, seeding rates may need to be increased to assure an adequate final stand.

Pioneer offers a seeding rate tool for corn which combines projected market value with hybrid selection and yield environment to calculate the ideal economic seeding rate.

For more information, contact a Pioneer sales professional. To learn more about PioneerĀ® brand products, visit

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.