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.