Gordon Johnson, Extension Fruit & Vegetable Specialist; firstname.lastname@example.org
Wet field conditions have delayed early pea plantings across the region in 2010. In wet years, many fields often get planted under conditions that are not favorable for good pea performance as processors try to keep to a schedule. Planting into damp, compacted soils will lead to poor root growth, increased root rots, stunted plants, and poor pea yields. While planting in soils with higher soil moisture than desired is often unavoidable, there are some decisions that you can make to increase the chance of success in these sub-optimum conditions
1) Pay close attention to field selection. Choose the best drained fields with little or no low spots. Choose fields with soil types that warm quickly (sandy loams, loamy sands).
2) Consider planting into fields that have residue from a previous crop.
Corn stubble is desirable in these conditions. While not ideal from a trash standpoint (pieces of cob or stalk can be a contaminant at harvest), stalk pieces in the soil helps to maintain drainage, reduce potential compaction, and keep roots aerated.
3) Reduce tillage trips across the field to the minimum necessary. Use equipment with the lightest “footprint” to reduce compaction (lighter tractors, lower pressure tires, etc.)
4) Pay attention to your seed quality and seed treatments. Use the highest quality seed for these plantings with maximum protection from seed treatments (fungicides and insecticides). Germination in cold, wet soils will be much slower and extended over a longer period and protection from seed treatments will be challenged. Handle seed gently to reduce damage (cracks in seed coats and splits).
5) Plant shallower than normal and reduce down pressure on drill press wheels (however, make sure that soil to seed contact is adequate).