Planting in Cold Conditions Impedes Stand Establishment

Chart showing how much water is taken up by corn seed within the first three hours of submersion in water

Planting before a cold period with rain and/or snow can greatly impede stand establishment and resulting yield potential. Corn seed once in the ground wants to germinate. It can absorb 30 percent of its weight in water within the first 30 minutes after exposure to saturated conditions. The chart shows how much water is taken up by corn seed within the first three hours of submersion in water.

When the dry seed imbibes cold water (typically 50° F or below), imbibitional chilling injury may result. The degree of damage ranges from seed death to abnormalities such as corkscrews or fused coleoptiles (Figure 1 and Figure 2).

Abnormal mesocotyl and coleoptile development due to prolonged cold stress.

Figure 1 and Figure 2. Abnormal mesocotyl and coleoptile development due to prolonged cold stress.

If corn seed imbibes water at cold temperatures, it could kill the seed or result in abnormal or defective seedlings. Stand establishment is greatly improved with at least 24 hours of warmer, moist conditions before a cold stress event.

See AgVenture Product Tech Update: Chilling Injury and Flooding Effects on Corn Stand Establishment available at: https://www.agventure.com/blog/chilling-injury-and-flooding-effects-corn-stand-establishment.