Because the weather often is the determining factor in how early no-till planting can begin, Bill Hammitt holds a “wait-and-see” attitude rather than strictly adhering to a planting system previously mapped out.
“I always plan ahead,” explains the Portsmouth, Iowa, no- tiller, “but what I do in the field is normally based on environmental conditions.”
Once no-till soil temperatures hit 50 degrees F. at a 4-inch depth, Hammitt starts corn planting. While many neighboring growers ignore soil temperatures and plant according to calendar date, which can be as early as April 14, Hammit’s goal of a uniform stand requires warm soil temperatures.
No-tilling corn since 1982, Hammitt says it’s almost a guarantee that no-till fields will always take longer to warm up compared to tilled fields. This is especially true in cold, wet springs.
Hammitt has developed the following methods to overcome this challenge:
Using Auscherman TerraTine row cleaners on a Kinze split- row planter lets Hammitt clear away residue. This lets the soil soak up the sun’s rays directly. “With the row cleaners, I can get in the field at about the same time as conventional tillers do in most years,” Hammit explains.
Applying 10-34-0 starter fertilizer gives corn an extra boost. “I think corn needs this nitrogen at planting time,” says Hammitt. “I apply anhydrous, phosphate and potash in the fall. When you fall apply nitrogen, it’s down there pretty deep and it takes quite awhile for the roots to get down to it. I like to have…