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As producers across the Prairies are anxiously awaiting the start of seeding, Old Man Winter seems very reluctant to release his grip in some parts of the region. Spring temperatures have been trending below normal and the forecast is showing an increase in precipitation for most areas across Western Canada. In early April, frost was detectable at a depth of 7-8 feet in Manitoba.

So, what does a cool, wet spring mean for farmers who want to get a jump on the season?

Although seeds are able to germinate in cold soil – as low as 2-5 degrees Celsius – many of the essential macro and micronutrients that seedlings require are virtually unavailable at that temperature.

Key nutrients like potassium, phosphorus and zinc are all unavailable until soils warm up to 12 degrees Celsius. This is especially problematic because phosphorus and zinc are both critical in the early stages of germination and root development. And, as we read earlier in this series, zinc deficient plants are more susceptible to early-season damage caused by cold and frost.

Cold, wet soil also impedes the uptake of manganese, a micronutrient responsible for activating over 35 enzymes in the plant, as well as boron and copper.

The Solution

Coating your seed with an OMEX Primer before planting can help your crop manage early-season stresses. OMEX Primers provide enough nutrition to carry seedlings through to the 3-5 leaf stage. Crops emerge quicker, even when cold, wet conditions limit or prevent uptake of soil nutrients.

For canola, which can germinate at a chilly 2 degrees Celsius, pre-treat your seed with Primer Canola. Primer Canola improves early-season establishment in cold and wet soil conditions. The crop cabbages out and bolts quicker, resulting in an earlier flowering to beat the summer heat.

Using a liquid starter fertilizer at seeding time can also help correct deficiencies caused by cold, wet soil. OMEX Starters provide easily accessible nutrients to promote rapid root development and fast seedling growth. Starter P, recommended for use in-furrow with a complete spring-applied fertilizer program, is designed to improve early-season uptake of phosphorus and help plants better tolerate stress.

Talk to your retailer or OMEX sales representative about ways you can manage the challenges of seeding into cold, wet soil.

In our next post: We’re taking a closer look at how to use OMEX Starters for a strong start and a faster finish.