Tedious planter prep yields additional bushels
When temperatures start to warm and the grass perks up, the itch to get in the field is hard to resist. Coffee shop talk centers around who’s going to hit the field first. Enthusiasm is good, but don’t let it shortchange planter prep.
"A common mistake is not following the plan and allowing the anticipation to get in the field be the priority," says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist. "This results in lack of preparation and potential yield loss."
Pull the planter out of storage and spend several days giving your planter a comprehensive check-up. Tedious work sets the foundation for accurate seed placement, depth control and consistent seed-to-soil contact. Your planter readiness should dictate your go-time just as much as weather and soil conditions.
Once your planter is ready to roll, it’s important to evaluate in-field performance using a combination of technology and ground truthing. In-cab monitors provide immediate information on seed spacing, seed bed conditions and operating speed, which allows for quick adjustments. But don’t solely rely on technology to determine how your planter is running, cautions Missy Bauer, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist.
"Stop the tractor and planter and take the time to verify accurate seed depth, seed spacing and overall performance," Bauer says. "Make sure all of your monitors and in-field findings match up.
"Every 1,000 ears per acre is worth 5 bu. to 7 bu.," Bauer says. "It’s pretty common to pick up several thousand ears per acre as a result of good setup, and that can result in significant additional revenue."
To see this yield boost through to the combine, it starts with minding the details you have control over at planting.
You might not be the talk of the coffee shop if you’re not the first farmer out of the gate, but the extra days of prep time will give your peers reason to talk come harvest.
Top 6 Tips for Accurate Seed Placement
1. Seed Size Matters
Accurate seed placement starts long before you pull out the planter from storage and dust it off for another season. Order seed early to receive the highest quality seed, in the size best suited for optimal results with your planter. To determine the appropriate seed size, look back at past records and in-field experiences. Order the most consistent seed size across all hybrids. When setting meters, be sure to verify performance using a test stand operated by a trusted adjuster using a sample of your seed. If the planter is new to you, consult with your machinery dealer, seed supplier or meter adjuster for proper seed size recommendations.
2. Check Meter Performance
Once the seed is delivered and spring is in the air, it’s time to check meters. Seed size adjustments might differ based on the style of meter. New vacuum and air meters have flat plates, no seed cells and less sensitivity to seed shapes. Finger meters have seed cells and are more sensitive to seed shapes. Both meters will plant accurately if they are calibrated correctly and in good mechanical condition. For best results, take a sample of seed to the adjuster to fill the meter. To achieve spatial uniformity and proper singulation, set the meter where the seed is planting at the highest accuracy. Use the metering stand each year because seed size might vary.
- Seed Guide 2014