As I am writing this, there is still snow on the ground throughout most of the Midwest.
And while it may seem that spring planting is not anytime soon, it will be here before you know it. Are you ready? Is your planter ready? Here is some information regarding the importance of taking the time now to get your planter settings optimized for getting the most from the seeds you plant.
Uneven corn emergence and uneven distribution of plants can result from poor planting conditions, improper equipment settings or improper planting speed. Each of these, or a combination of them, is guaranteed to reduce yield significantly. Later emerging plants lack the ability to compete with the other plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients. Waiting for “fit” soil conditions and resisting the urge to increase planting speed are things you have control over during the planting season. Adjusting the planter properly is one thing you have control over now so that you can increase your odds of maximizing seed-to-soil contact, which can in turn contribute to a more even emergence of plants.
The Monmouth Learning Center for Bayer has conducted a multiyear study evaluating the effects of having seed firmers and row cleaners and having them set properly.
Here is a summary of their findings:
1) Not having seed firmers or row cleaners on the planter reduced final yield by 14 bu per acre.
2) Using poorly adjusted firmers and row cleaners reduced yield the same amount as not having them at all, 14 bu per acre.
Conclusions from this study:
• Seed placement, good seed-to-soil contact and a clean seedbed are important factors in enabling corn seedlings to establish quickly and begin growing vigorously.
• Seed firmers can help improve seed-to-soil contact leading to better stand establishment and more even emergence.
• Properly set row cleaners can also provide an environment that promotes even emergence and a uniform stand.
You will only get one chance to do it right when the time comes to plant. So take advantage of the time available now to set up for maximizing the probability of an even distribution of uniformly emerged plants.