Soil crusting has occurred in many fields across Southern Ontario. Clay pottery is made by mixing soil and water and then baking it. The combination of lots of rain and bright sun has duplicated this “clay baking process” in many Ontario fields.
How do you know you have a crust?
If you walk across the field and you can feel the soil move under your feet you do not have a crust. If it feels like your are walking on a road you have a crust. This crust must be removed.
If the corn is not up, try a rotary hoe. If the rotary hoe is not moving enough soil, try some type of vertical tillage such as a RTS (residue tillage specialist) tillage tool. If you do not have access to that try a cultivator. Have the cultivator’s front feet about one to two inches into the soil. This may mean the back teeth are not in the soil. Put the rolling harrows down and then drive as fast a possible.
Do not worry about killing the corn. I have seen this done many times. The first time I saw it was in the 1970’s. A grower was not satisfied with his stand. He cultivated the field thinking to replant it. After cultivating he was rained out for a few days. By the time the soil was fit the original stand came up and was acceptable.
If you are checking fields on a daily basis check the population in 1/1000 of an acre. Make sure you are checking the same place every day. Put drainage flags or somehow mark the place in the field where you are doing your daily checks. BF