By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist
Planting corn is a race against time — trying to cover all of the acres in a very narrow window. Because of the time crunch, planting is often seen as just another operation that needs to be completed quickly, when in all actuality, planting is the single most important operation to achieve a bumper corn crop. Planting is not just about putting seed into the ground, planting is about providing the proper conditions to achieve an even stand with a quick and uniform emergence. The key to planting success is the corn planter.
Why is so much emphasis put on the planter? Because once a corn seed is planted, there is very little to nothing that can be done to fix the errors of planting. Therefore, properly planting the crop the first time is essential. The following is a list of some last minute tips to help get the corn crop off to a great start.
Detailed planter maintenance
- Before heading to the field check and double check every row and every part of the row to ensure all parts and pieces are in excellent, not acceptable, condition. Don’t forget the daily maintenance, including greasing and tune-ups during planting.
- For consistent planting depth, check and set each row to plant at depths greater than 1.5 inches (preferably 2 inches). Adequate depth is the key to planting seed in uniform soil moisture and soil temperature. This depth allows for proper and abundant root development and keeps the seed out of the herbicide zone, thus reducing the risk of herbicide damage. This also ensures that the front coulters are not running deeper than the double-disk openers.
In addition, running the coulter deeper than the desired seed trench can cause uneven planting depths. Growers should also use some type of a seed firmer to ensure proper seed placement; check for wear on double-disk openers and replace them if more than a half-inch is worn of the blades; and maintain good seed to soil contact with closing wheels that are operating property and centered on the middle of the furrow.
Adjust planting population
Hybrids are maximized at different populations, be willing to change populations with different hybrids and soil types.
2 x 2 starter fertilizer:
- Ensure all fertilizer coulters are at least 2-inches away from seed trench as not to cause any stand loss due to salt injury.
- Check all hoses and pump to ensure there are no clogs or holes that will limit uniform distribution of fertilizer.
- Double check pump settings to ensure desired rate are being applied.
Maintain proper planting speed:
- Setup meters to run at a planting speed of 4 to 6 miles per hour to ensure accurate seed spacing.
- Increasing planting speed leads to yield robbing skips and doubles.
- The metering system is not the only concern at higher planting speeds.
- The faster the planter travels, the rougher the terrain becomes, thus the more the seed bounces down the seed tube. By the seed bouncing down the tube instead of dropping straight through the tube, seed placement is jeopardized and greatly increases skips and doubles.
Once planter is attached to the towing tractor, check to ensure that the planter is level front to back.
Use talc or graphite
Read and follow planter recommendations to ensure proper singulation at the meter.
Be willing to adjust row cleaners for each field to ensure they are not moving soil, only residue. By moving soil, trenches are created and stand development can be dramatically reduced.
There are many considerations when getting ready to plant corn. Fortunately, the time spent preparing will mean less down time during planting and better planter operation to ensure the corn crop is planted correctly. Remember the greatest yield potential for corn is when it is still in the bag, everything that happens once the kernel leaves the bag lowers that potential. Please don’t let your planter be the cause for lowering that potential in 2012.