SoilTemp.JPGCheck out the soil temperature in your area.

Here is a link for Nebraska soil temperatures

Here is a link for soil temperatures around the United States

Right now soil temperatures are a very important part of the decision making process regarding how soon to plant crops.  Field corn requires a soil temperature of 55 degrees Farenheit, (13 degrees C) for optimal planting. Last week my father checked the soil temperature of our crop land and it was a whoppng 38 degrees farenheit.  The last three years, we have started planting corn the last week of April.  This year, the soil temperature is too cold to begin planting this week.

“Seeds require optimum soil temperatures to initiate germination and sustain early development, irrespective of the climate zone or year. Farmers who plant before the soil reaches optimum temperatures assume a higher risk of yield loss. This could be due to such factors as seed death, poor germination, or limited initial growth.”  Source UNL CropWatch Feb 2, 2011

With spring corn planting being delayed because of the cold soil temperatures, watch for corn prices to rise again this week with more expected wet conditions and cool temperatures. Hopefully, it appears the weather is suppose to begin warming up toward the beginning of May.  Also, with the wet conditions, a closer look at insects and disease exists during the early stages of plant-root development. It would be a good idea to carefully monitor this situation if the weather does not warm up soon.

When looking at the maps listed above, remember these are generalizations.  You will notice  differences in the values reported at the local and  national levels. The best way to check is to personally take the soil temperature yourself. Soil thermometers are available at most nurseries or garden centers. Also, you can order a soil thermometer online by  purchasing a soil thermometer, go to the Midwest Laboratories eStore.

Picture Source | Stephen Cochran