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Know your minimum germination temperatures

Apr. 29, 2014 - Soil temperature is a useful gauge for timing when crops are seeded. If the soil is too cool, germination can be delayed which can result in uneven or inadequate seedling emergence. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) offers some tips on how to accurately measure soil temperature:

  • Determine how deep you will be seeding
  • Place your soil thermometer at that targeted depth
  • Take two measurements throughout the day: one in the morning (8 am) and one in the early evening (8 pm).
  • Average the two readings to determine the average soil temperature

MAFRD recommends you take readings for two to three days to establish a multiple day average, and to measure temperature in a number of locations in the field, to account for field variability.

Table 1 shows the minimum germination temperatures for various crops. These values should be regarded as approximate since germination depends on several factors. If the soil is too cool, germination can be delayed which can result in uneven or inadequate seedling emergence.

Table 1: Minimum Germination Temperatures for Various Crops
Crop Temperature (°C)
Wheat 4
Barley 3
Oats 5
Corn 10
Canola 5
Flax 9
Sunflower 6
Edible Beans 10
Peas 4
Soybeans 10

Sources: North Dakota State University Extension Service, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Canola Council of Canada.