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Imagine no-tilling corn in the middle of March on St. Patrick’s Day and not seeing the crop pop out of the ground until May. Got you worried? No need to be.
Landec Ag has been testing polymer coated seeds for more than 8 years. The polymers activate based on temperature, moisture or both and the coating prevents water from entering the seed under cold soil temperature conditions.
Ohio State extension soybean specialist Jim Beuerlein has been testing polymer coated soybeans for several years. He finds a smaller planting window with corn vs. soybeans.
In typical fields, corn could be no-tilled up to 4 weeks earlier than normal. As long as the soil temperature is too cold for healthy germination, the “smart” polymer maintains a dense crystalline structure around the seed.
“Like a shell, it forms a barrier between the seed and the moisture in the soil, restricting the seed from taking on water,” says Landec Ag’s senior agronomist Claude Butt. “The early plant corn has a temperature switch. As the soil temperature warms, the physical properties of the coating change, allowing water into the seeds. Depending on the environmental conditions, usually 2 or 3 days of 60 degree soil temperatures are needed for moisture to enter the seed.”
Butt sees no-tillers using the polymer coated corn as a risk reducer. “The Early Plant program is a management tool for them to get started no-tilling early and have the assurance that they will have…