Don't let a slow start to the planting season get you down.
These four steps, courtesy of Kraig Roozeboom, crop production and cropping systems specialist at Kansas State University
, will make sure you have a strong planting season, regardless of the start date.
Make Sure Your Planter is Field-Ready
Proper planter maintenance is essential, Roozeboom says. "It is important that corn seed be planted at the proper depth, with good seed-soil contact, and with good closure of the seed furrow,” he says. Following a planter checklist, such as the one included below, can help you achieve these planting goals.
Roozeboom says farmers need to strive for uniform spacing. He says that by not having your planter in top-notch condition, you could reduce your final corn stands.
Wait for the Perfect Soil Signals
"Don't get in a hurry,” Roozeboom warns.
He said the favored soil conditions are:
- Warm, above 55 degrees F at midday, at a 2” depth
- Relatively dry
Roozeboom says planting into a wet seedbed can cause sidewall compaction and inhibit root growth. Cool, wet soils also favor seed rot and diseases and fields filled with clods promote uneven emergence, he says.
Keep an Eye on the Weather Map
Most farmers are usually glued to weather radar maps during the spring. That can pay off well, Roozeboom says.
"On some soils, one of the most common causes of stand failure is soil crusting caused by pounding rains soon after planting,” he says.
Roozeboom suggests watching the weather forecasts and trying to hit a rain-free window.
Field Scout Soon and Often
Once your corn emerges, go check it out. Roozeboom says it is important to scout fields closely for any early-season insect problems.
"Seedling corn can come back from a rapid defoliation that occurs early, but repeated defoliations or a persistent insect infestation, such as flea beetles, can eventually weaken or destroy a stand,” he says.
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