Submitted by Dr. Tarlok Singh Sahota CCA
Seeding spring crops can be delayed due to various reasons such as cold, wet springs, lack of proper field drainage, heavy clay soils that will be late to come in condition for seeding, equipment break downs or sickness of a farm operator or worker. Can spring crops be seeded in June? I believe so!
Most spring crops would mature in ~90 days, which could even be less for June seeding due to relatively longer days and higher temperatures than May, thus leading to faster crop emergence and growth. Deducting 90 days from the conventional killing frost date (September 9), we come to June 10. In 2013, we had seeded canola on June 12 at TBARS and the crop matured before the killing frost with a seed yield of 4.6 MT/ha (= 1.84 MT/ha) at 120 kg N/ha. What other crops could be seeded in June (up to mid June or so)? Spring cereals, flax, peas and edible beans among grain/seed crops and barley, sorghum Sudangrass and MasterGraze corn among annual forage crops; the latter two crops could give 8 MT dry matter yield/ha in 80 days. We prefer sorghum Sudangrass for higher protein content forage (for details refer to TBARS Annual Reports 2013-‘15). Sorghum Sudangrass that tends to choke weeds would be an excellent crop for organic producers. Apart from forage, it could also be used as a green manure crop. Perennial forage crops with or preferably without a companion crop could be seeded not only in June but in July too!
Should the seed rate be higher for June seeding? Yes, 25 % higher than recommended for canola, flax, spring cereals and grain legumes but no for annual/or perennial forage crops. Due to warm weather and longer days, tillering/or branching could be less in June seeded crops. Therefore, it is advisable to use 25 % extra seed than what is normally recommended for spring seeding. Will there be serious weed issues? I don’t think so. The weeds emerged before seeding could be killed by Round Up spray and timely application of recommended post emergence herbicides will keep the crops free of weeds. Could there be any disease or pest issue? Hard to say. Insect pests and diseases proliferate when both humidity and temperatures are high. Fungicides sprays are advisable (even in timely seeded crops). Insecticides could be sprayed if any insect pest attack is noticed, as is the case with timely seeded crops.
Will the crop yields be less in June seeded crops? Not necessarily! In rain-fed agriculture, a lot depends upon the weather. High temperatures and drought at grain ripening (July- August) could lower the grain/seed yields of even May seeded crops. Whereas, June seeded crops are likely to mature when the day and night temperatures would be on the decline. One of our member farmers had seeded barley for grain production in June (2008?) and he got a bumper crop! Will the cost of production be higher in June seeded crops than the May seeded crops? A little bit higher because of higher seed rate. This shouldn’t matter if you have your own seed/and if you aren’t seeding a GMO crop. Better than loosing a crop season, isn’t it? Moreover, seeding with a precision planter could minimize the seed rate. Give June seeding a try if you are left with some unseeded acres! Any questions? Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 807-475-8404.