10 tips for planting season success
From creating a plan for your yield goal to weed management strategies, these agronomic experts share tips to keep you on track during planting season.
1. Create a plan to reach your yield goal.
“First and foremost, farmers need to determine a yield goal and create a detailed plan to reach it,” Tanna Petersak, regional sales agronomist for Stine Seed says. “Soil tests are extremely important to know the productivity and fertility of acres and learning where to improve. Ideally, this should be done over the fall and winter months.”
In addition, Petersak remarks that no matter how good the genetics are, the plant must be fed. “We must have a plan to help our crops be successful and that requires soil heath and feeding the plant throughout the growing season,” she says.
2. Prepare your planting equipment.
Jeff Mueller, seed agronomist at BASF says, “Approximately 50% to 60% of your yield is determined at planting time. So make sure you have a well-prepared seedbed and start the field out clean, whether through chemical applications or tillage practices.”
Mueller says in order to be ready when it’s “go time,” ensure your planter is set up, that the weather and field conditions are ideal prior to getting out in the fields, and make the right adjustments to your equipment to ensure good seed placement.
3. Quality tires translate to savings.
Brad Harris, manager of global agricultural field engineering at Firestone Ag recommends ensuring you have quality tires on when going to do fieldwork so you can avoid a flat or a need to repair.
“During planting or harvest, we don’t want anything stopping us. If we have a flattened tire because we didn’t replace one that showed wear, we then have to wait for a tire technician to show up with a replacement tire when we should be planting,” he explains.
Based on data from Pioneer Hybrids, there is potential for yield drag as a result of planting delays at about $627 per hour.
“What we really want to focus on is preventive maintenance up front so that we aren’t wasting dollars per hour waiting for help and tires to show up,” Harris says.
4. Keep timing and weed pressure top-of-mind.
Weather is the biggest challenge every year during planting season. But Tanna Petersak says the conditions you plant in might be one of the most important decisions.
“Always keep in mind the short and long-term forecast, no matter what your neighbor is doing. We are always in a hurry, but do not rush this decision,” she says.
Petersak also recommends keeping weed pressure in mind. “Knowing weed profiles and learning how to keep fields clean is crucial. Be aware of the level of resistance and adjust appropriately. The earlier you plant, the longer the window weeds have to grow. With that being said, residuals only last so long and there are fewer options to control weeds when planting extremely early.”
5. Treat the seed.
Think critically about seed treatments and their short-and long-term benefits.
“Many farmers may use a standard low-rate treatment when they could be benefiting by using biologicals and amino acids,” Petersak says. “Farmers can cut costs by treating seed themselves and using an effective treatment, while tailoring it to their operation.”
Treatments protect genetics, they don’t necessarily improve them. Petersak says, “Although genetics are very important, this is an enhancer we need to take advantage of.”
6. Check your equipment three times a day.
“Growers need to make sure to get out and check their equipment at least three times a day,” Petersak recommends. “No matter how much technology you’re using, perform a cross-section dig to make sure depth, down pressure, and singulation is working effectively. Also, make sure the row units are straight and your opening discs are within dealer specifications.”
7. Know the cost of poor weed management.
Stevan Knezevic, weed management specialist at the University of Nebraska, says, “In managing cost vs. yield, understand that it is much more expensive if you spend less money and do not kill the weeds. A general rule of thumb is that for every stage of delayed weed control, there is a 2% loss of potential yield.”
8. Apply postemergent products for weed management.
Mark Kitt, corn herbicide technical product lead for Syngenta says overlapping residuals can help prevent weed escapes. “Ideally, before new weed growth is discovered, use postemergence to provide that overlapping residual and postemergence management – especially when applied in a system where a foundation rate of a preemergence herbicide is used.”
9. Take advantage of technology.
Megan Taylor, Extension educator at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, recommends a variety of resources to help advance your knowledge and management of your operation:
- Excel is a great way to track management decisions and record notes throughout the season.
- With the increase of online trainings, there is greater access to various speakers, different experts, and new technologies.
- Look into smartphone apps – new ones and existing ones that are receiving updates. Contact your agronomists, seed salesperson, and local Extension agronomist for recommendations in your region.
Tanna Petersak has a one-word recommendation to get ahead of potential issues in the fields: scout.
“Make sure to step out of the truck and walk fields regularly while also doing root digs to look for signs of feeding,” she says. “Understanding pest history will help determine what trait platform is needed for corn. On the soybean side, I recommend the variety with the disease protection that has the most impact on those acres. When choosing a soybean platform, choose one with an herbicide program that has multiple fungicide and insecticide tank mix capabilities.”
Petersak’s best advice is to prevent things from getting out of hand because once the crops are damaged, they’re damaged. A fungicide is meant to protect, not cure.