April's Ag Advice by April Borders It's hard to believe that it is March already and soon we will be out in the fields preparing to plant. Time sure does fly by! With knowing that field work is just around the corner, we have to ask ourselves if we are ready. Is our equipment repaired and fine tuned so that we can be efficient when we are planting?
Have you ever thought about mistakes that are made while planting? Do they matter? Do they really affect your yields? Well, the answer is yes. The mistakes that you make during planting will haunt you all season. Planting mistakes are permanent. The effects of uneven or variable stand on yield potential are also permanent.
In essence, the planter becomes the most important piece of equipment on the farm. It is important to get your entire planter to operate properly. Much of what it takes to get a planter ready can be found in the operators' manual. A lot of the planter work can be done in your own shop. Go over the entire planter and check for worn parts.
One area that we should look at is the seed meters. Do we make an assumption that our seed meter is accurate? Well, it would be a wise thing to have it checked. You should never assume that a seed meter is accurate and you should never assume a planter is operating correctly. Often times, producers assume that everything is running right. You may make regular adjustments, then fill the boxes and head out into the field.
Have you ever considered what a skip does to your stand, or how do doubles and triples affect yield? The result of a gap in the stand could potentially cut yields by 2 to 10 bushels. Then you have the double whammy of a skip and a double planting (two seeds being dropped). This results in a gap in the stand and two plants that compete against each other. A triple (three seeds dropped simultaneously) greatly impacts seed costs as well as weakens the resulting three plant's ability to withstand stress.
Even spacing won't totally guarantee top yields. Uneven emergence caused by poor seed depth also affects yields. Seed at a consistent depth will emerge more evenly and reduce the number of late emerging plants, which further reduces the competition between plants of differing sizes. Uniform emergence is very important to higher overall yields. University of Minnesota research found that when half a stand is delayed seven days, yields are cut by over nine bushels an acre.
An accurate planter is a must. It is a good management practice. Before actually planting you should do a field run. Doing a "dry" run, will provide insight on how well you are meeting four key functions: cutting and handling residue, penetrating the soils, making food seed-to-soil contact and closing the seed vee. According to Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska, all four of these functions are crucial especially when operating in reduced- or no-till situations.
Make sure the planter is running level in the field both front and back. Taking the seeder out to the field and planting without seed will allow you to make final adjustments and determine if depth gauge wheels are making firm contact with the soil. It also helps you to see if coulters or trash wheels are operating at the right depth and down-pressure springs are properly tensioned.
Taking time to look over and adjust your equipment will pay off in the end. We can't afford to assume all is well.
For more information contact the Clay County Extension Office at 677-7111.