Cold and snow vs. corn and soybeans


Tony Nye - OSU Extension



So, how many of your pro football teams drafted the right player the last couple of days? How many of you really don’t care? Either way, it has provided lots of discussion amongst many conversational circles.

The weather has certainly been a topic of discussion as well with snow over a week ago, highs in the 80’s this week and now the rain. Welcome to Ohio weather.

The rain put a screeching halt to planting progress late this week and the amount we received will keep producers out of the fields for a few more days. So, what’s ahead? According to weather, experts there appears to be some weather challenges ahead of us.

Jim Noel with the National Weather Service notes these challenges are both short- and long-term for us. According to Noel, in the short term, the recent snow was a rare event for the amount that fell across Ohio. However, the minimum temperatures in the 20s and 30s were not that far off normal for last freeze conditions for Ohio.

The strongest typhoon ever in the northern hemisphere occurred east of the Philippines last week and this energy is what has affected parts of North America this week. When we see weather events such as this, weather model performance often drops. Hence, if you see more bouncing around of forecasts the next 10-15 days that may be one reason why.

Now that this latest system has passed, colder air will push in and some frost will be possible this weekend with lows in the 30s in some parts of the state.

Rainfall the next 30 days is critical for the growing season as moderate drought over northern Ohio already has soil conditions in a shortage.

Long term, Noel says May appears we will see periods of well above and below normal temperatures but will average out close to normal or just slightly above normal. Precipitation continues to trend at or below normal but models suggest a normal May for precipitation. If we get timely rains that will help soil conditions for summer.

If we miss critical rains in May, this could lead to summer issues.

The latest rainfall outlook calls for normal rainfall which is near 2 inches for the next 16 days. We expect 1-3 inches for most areas.

For summer, most climate models indicate above normal temperatures and medium to high confidence of above normal temperatures during typical peak temperatures from mid-June to mid-August.

We will need to monitor this. Confidence in summer rainfall is low. Most outlooks and models suggest not too far from normal rainfall, but the reality is since 30-50% of summer rainfall comes from local soils, the next 30 days will be a big player in our summer rainfall outcome.

Like always, our weather will be a wait and see, and hopefully it promotes an excellent growing season in the weeks to come.

So. what about crops planted prior to the snow and cold? We know we had several acres of crops planted throughout the county, the big question: “Were any of the corn or soybean plants emerged?”

Whether the corn and soybean plants were emerged, we need to look at the effect of imbibitional chilling, which may occur in corn and soybean seeds if the soil temperature is below 50°F when the seed imbibes (when seed rapidly takes up water from the soil, usually within 24 hours after planting).

Imbibitional chilling can cause reductions in stand and seedling vigor. If seeds were planted into soil at least 50°F (and have already imbibed), the drop in temperature is not likely a problem if the plants have not yet emerged from the soil. This year, the concern is for seed planted into dry soil that imbibed due to the recent snow melt.

If your corn and soybean plants were emerged at the time of the cold temperatures last week, fields should be assessed this week now that temperatures warmed up some. The growing point of corn is below the soil surface until the V6 growth stage, and therefore is protected from low temperatures to some extent.

For soybeans, the growing point is above the ground when the cotyledons are above the soil surface. If damage occurs below the cotyledons, the plant will die.

If your corn and soybean plants were not yet emerged at the time of the cold temperatures last week, you may need to wait longer to assess potential damage. Checking the seeds now may be hard to tell if imbibitional chilling occurred because affected seeds that won’t complete the germination process will still absorb water.

As the temperatures warm up, corn and soybean seeds should begin to germinate and emerge from the soil. OSU crop scientists suggest assessing corn and soybean stand as plants emerge.

Since it is too wet to plant right now, I encourage all producers that planted prior to the snow to get out and start assessing stands.

If you would like assistance or have more questions, be sure to give me a call at (937) 382-0901 or email me at nye.1@osu.edu.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

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Tony Nye

OSU Extension