Sum­mer crops –
from spring sow­ing to sum­mer harvest

As soon as the days become longer and warmer, spring sow­ing is the next step. The cul­ti­va­tion of sum­mer crops brings more vari­ety to crop rota­tion and can ease peak work peri­ods. While the first ear­ly pota­toes are already plant­ed, the prepa­ra­tion for sug­ar beet and maize should begin, assum­ing the soil is dry enough. Ide­al­ly, the pre­vi­ous crop should have been one that is resis­tant against nema­todes so that it can now be used as a source of humus and ensure a basic sup­ply of nitro­gen. In addi­tion to sug­ar beet and maize, sum­mer cere­al crops are now also select­ed. In every case, the seed should be sown as ear­ly as pos­si­ble in order to opti­mise the short­ened grow­ing peri­od com­pared to the win­ter crops. In order to enable the best start, how­ev­er, it is impor­tant to look for a soil tem­per­a­ture of at least 8°C.

Before sow­ing: Till­ing and soil condition

The suc­cess­ful cul­ti­va­tion of sum­mer crops starts long before sow­ing and there­fore requires opti­mal till­ing. For this pur­pose, the form of sow­ing should be defined in order to select the most appro­pri­ate type of till­ing. In gen­er­al, the shal­low­est pos­si­ble form of till­ing should be used so as not to destroy the cap­il­lary sys­tem of the soil. This can result in an insuf­fi­cient water sup­ply for the crop, which can lead to low­er yields, espe­cial­ly in a dry spring. Mix­ing the upper lay­ers of soil, on the oth­er hand, aer­ates and warms the soil, elim­i­nates weeds and thus lays the foun­da­tion for the suc­cess­ful ger­mi­na­tion of the sum­mer crops.

Farmer using mobile phone in a crop field

seed quan­ti­ty, seed den­si­ty and seed depth

“Like seed, like har­vest,” is a sen­tence that is often heard in the cul­ti­va­tion of sug­ar beet. How­ev­er, this guide­line applies to all oth­er crops, and espe­cial­ly in spring. An ide­al emer­gence ensures that plants can use the sun­ny days faster to form leaf mass and store both water and nutri­ents. Sug­ar beet requires a sol­id seed fur­row and a light coat­ing of earth to ensure a suf­fi­cient water sup­ply and pro­mote rapid ger­mi­na­tion. Since maize is often cul­ti­vat­ed on heav­ier soil, a rel­a­tive­ly shal­low drill depth of 4–5 cm is required to make it eas­i­er for the seedling to grow. How­ev­er, it is rec­om­mend­ed that the depth is reg­u­lar­ly checked dur­ing drilling, as sow­ing the seed too shal­low can lead to the grains dry­ing out.
While sum­mer cere­als require some­what less pre­ci­sion, par­tic­u­lar care should be giv­en to the seed quan­ti­ties. At an ide­al sow­ing time at the start of the veg­e­ta­tion cycle, approx­i­mate­ly 300 grains should be sown per square metre. The lat­er the sow­ing, the high­er the seed rate should be.

If the most prac­ti­cal sys­tem of tram­lines is observed dur­ing sow­ing, loss­es can be min­imised, and the process­es of plant pro­tec­tion and fer­til­i­sa­tion made sim­pler. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant with sug­ar beet and maize since they find it hard­er to recov­er from being dri­ven over too many times.

After sow­ing: fer­til­i­sa­tion, plant pro­tec­tion and harvest

In order to pro­mote the growth of crops after sow­ing, many dif­fer­ent fer­tilis­er and plant pro­tec­tion prod­ucts can be used. Sug­ar beet has the high­est require­ments for a com­pre­hen­sive nutri­ent sup­ply. Any deficit here will have a much faster impact on yield than with oth­er crops such as cere­als. In addi­tion to basic nutri­ents such as nitro­gen, phos­phate and sul­phur, micronu­tri­ents such as boron and man­ganese play an impor­tant role in ensur­ing a healthy plant with suf­fi­cient leaf mass and high sug­ar con­tent. As a rule, three plant pro­tec­tion mea­sures are car­ried out to pro­tect sug­ar beet from pests, weeds and dis­eases. The fol­low-up treat­ments (FUT) should be car­ried out with cau­tion, as the beet itself reacts very sen­si­tive­ly to plant pro­tec­tion products.

In the case of maize, a root fer­tilis­er is applied in the same work step as the actu­al sow­ing. This means that a nitro­gen and phos­phate fer­tilis­er is applied approx. 5 cm next to and 5 cm below the maize seeds. In this way, the plant has ear­ly access to a suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ty of nutri­ents to allow opti­mum ger­mi­na­tion. Plant pro­tec­tion in maize is usu­al­ly lim­it­ed to her­bi­cide appli­ca­tions. Since this crop does not cope well with com­pet­i­tive weeds, this should be car­ried out thoroughly.

Spring cere­al crops, like win­ter crops, require first and fore­most a suf­fi­cient sup­ply of nitro­gen. Plant pro­tec­tion appli­ca­tions can be used as need­ed and depend strong­ly on the weather.

Spring sow­ing with 365FarmNet


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