It’s 70 degrees out, the sun is shining and, just like many, we’ve got one thing on our mind: Planting. It’s easy to look out the window and see the neighbor driving down the road with his planter, drop what you’re doing, and try to beat him into the fields. Before racing out into the field this spring, there are a few things you should think about. First and foremost, consider every seed in a bag to be a plant with an ear that has 800 kernels. How you protect every one of those kernels is what’s going to make the difference between seeing red or green come fall. Everyone knows margins are going to be tight with prices where they currently are. We should all keep these key points in mind this spring to maximize our output this fall.
o Planting in wet conditions can cause compaction and side-wall compaction.
Root development issues and nutrient deficiencies are just a couple of problems that may stem from compaction.
o Planting into adequate moisture is pivotal to even emergence.
Part of having good stands and well-timed silking/pollination is even emergence.
o Be careful that the soil is not too wet when applying NH3.
If it is too wet it will cause smearing in the soil, which will not allow the NH3 to dissipate evenly.
o You want the weather warm and warming.
Fluctuating temperatures can cause undue stress on the seed. Soil temperatures need to be above 50 degrees for optimum germination, so keep an eye on the upcoming forecasts. Aside from just the temperatures, be sure to watch for rain. A cold rain can change the soil temperature faster than anything else.
o When it comes to planting, slow is smooth, and smooth is good. Plant spacing is more accurate at lower speeds.
Even plant spacing prevents competition for nutrients between plants. Seed depth is also more accurate at lower speeds. The depth that your seed is planted is important in many facets such as: emergence, temperature, and moisture, among others.
Look Over Your Planter
o If you have a transmission drive planter, make sure the pressure in each drive wheel is equal.
Uneven tire pressure can result in erratic population and plant spacing.
o Look over chains and replace if worn.
Worn chains can cause chatter, which can result in poor singulation.
o Check gauge wheels at planting depth.
The wheels should be able to spin, not too hard, but not too easy either.
o Once in the field, check to make sure the planter is running level. Also, double-check your seed depth multiple times throughout the day.
Corn should be planted at least 2.5” deep, to not only maintain good soil moisture and a more ambient temperature, but also gain as many sets of crown roots as possible. Beans should be planted at least 1.5-1.75” deep to maintain even soil moisture and temperature.
In summary, don’t let the calendar or your neighbors dictate when you go out into the field. You all know when the conditions are right to plant, and times of lower margins require a greater emphasis on these details. You’ve spent the money on fertilizer, nitrogen, seed, etc. over the last 6 months. Take the time now to do the little things right and drive more bushels out of the gate come fall. (Also be sure to take some time to enjoy this unseasonably warm weather before the busy planting season gets under way!) If you are unsure about any of this, reach out to a trusted advisor for more information. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to help you with any questions or concerns you may have!