How to Decide Which Field to Plant First

January 22, 2016 05:00 AM
How to Decide Which Field to Plant First

It can be challenging to determine what fields should go first at planting, but there are a few rules worth following, according to Mark Licht, Iowa State Extension cropping system agronomist, and Jeff Coulter, a Minnesota Extension agronomist.

  1. Start planning for planting early. “So much of planting depends on conditions,” says Coulter, so you'll want pay close attention to your fields in the days and weeks before planting to make the most of your time. 
  2. Keep your desired end results in mind. Your most productive fields should be the top priority as soon as they’re ready to plant, according to Licht.  Wondering which fields should get that status? Take a look at the field history. If one of your soybean fields has a history of sudden death syndrome, it might be smart to bump that field down the priority and dedicate your limited planting time to fields with less risk and greater potential productivity.
  3. Check the temperature and moisture level in the soil. “The two biggest mistakes farmers make involve soil,” Coulter says. If a field is wet and has a soil temperature is still below 50° and trending downward, you probably want to delay planting them for now.
  4. Account for special needs. If a grain from a field is used for a specific purpose such as feeding cows, it might be important to prioritize that field to provide supply in time, Licht reminds growers.
  5. Don't forget to build in drying time. If you have fields that are habitually wet, no matter how early you plant them, you might push them back since other fields could save you time and money by reducing your drying costs, Licht says.

How do you usually decide which of your fields get planted first? Let us know in the comments.

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