9 Things to Do While You Wait to Plant

May 13, 2013 11:47 PM
9 Things to Do While You Wait to Plant

Nothing is more frustrating that waiting for the weather to cooperate so that you can begin planting. But, you can use this downtime wisely. Here are a few key tasks to put on your to-do list, while you wait for Mother Nature to cooperate.

1. Be Patient. Don’t jump the planting gun, no matter how anxious you might be. Jeff Coulter, extension agronomist with the University of Minnesota, says that farmers planting late-season crops often plant a day or two early. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but driving tractors through fields that are too wet can cause compaction problems.

2. Fine-Tune Your Equipment. As Dan Anderson advises, no matter how hard you prepare, your first day in the field often comes with hiccups. So why not double-check your GPS guidance system and download software updates? Anderson says it’s also a good idea to test plant a small field to see how your equipment is working.

3. Make Burndown Applications. Once weather conditions allow you into fields, eliminate that blanket of weeds in your fields, recommends Purdue University Extensions weed specialists. This will help dry soil more quickly, allowing for earlier planting. It also provides a better seedbed for corn and soybeans.

4. Lock in Profits. Nothing takes your mind off the inability to plant like developing profit scenarios. Chris Barron recommends that you take the time to analyze pricing opportunities and lock in some of your profits. Most farmers, he says, haven’t sold anything at this time. Which may not be the wisest decision.

5. Calibrate Your Planter. Joe Luck, an extension precision agricultural engineer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, recommends that you do one last check of your planting equipment before you hit the fields. Today’s equipment may be technologically advanced. But there’s still no replacement for proper maintenance and management.

6. Apply Nitrogen. If you can make planned fertilizer applications without delaying planting, go ahead and make the applications, says Iowa State University’s John Sawyer. Materials such as urea or UAN solutions can be broadcast and incorporated with normal tillage before planting.

7. Work On A Plan B for Seed. Cold temperatures in places like Missouri may damage planted seeds and result in poor stands of corn. The problem, as University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist Bill Wiebold explains, is that seeds may rupture when they re-hydrate in the ground. You need a backup plan.

8. Keep a Vigilant Eye on Insects. Belowground insects are moving toward the soil surface after spending the winter underground. They get a strong foothold in cool, wet post-planting conditions. Now’s the time to develop a battle plan.

9. Adjust Your Corn-Soybean Mix. Delays in planting corn create a temptation to substitute soybeans. But Chris Barron has found that you may still be better off planting corn well into June because of the higher yield potential. Download his spreadsheet and figure out what’s best for you.


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