Spring Management Decisions

IMG 5301Written by Darin Chapman, Latham Agronomy Adviser

Having a plan, and the execution of that plan with corn planting is critical to maximizing the yield potential with today’s high yielding hybrids, and many of these management decisions are made well before planting.  Some of these choices may be hybrid, crop rotation, tillage, nutrient placement, target planting rate, and even planter upgrades.

One of the most crucial key management decisions to look at is achieving uniform plant emergence. If we do not achieve even emergence throughout the field, everything else we worked hard to achieve such as singulation, target population, and spacing will not matter if they don’t have even emergence.

Consider three things when trying to achieve stellar emergence: Simultaneous, quick, and secure. Consistent heat and moisture are two things needed when a seed is planted. Tillage, residue management, downforce, and closing the furrow, are just a few variables to manage attaining even emergence.

  1. TILLAGE. If making a tillage pass in the spring prior to planting, it is important to make sure both dry and moist soil are not mixed in the seed zone. This could cause the seeds to experience variances in moisture causing different emergence timing.
  2. RESIDUE MANAGEMENT. Leaving crop residue on the surface of the soil is an investment and saves from wind and water erosion.  Although residue being very valuable, it needs to be managed.  If residue isn’t properly managed, it can cause late emergence, seedling blights, and nutrient deficiencies.
  3. DOWNFORCE. This is probably one of the more crucial aspects that affect emergence and yield but is often overlooked. The proper weight on a planter gauge wheel determines we are planting at the correct depth.  To control this, we need adequate down pressure on the gauge wheel. Side walls can collapse if there isn’t enough weight applied to the gauge wheels. If there is too much weight applied, compaction can be an issue. Studies have shown that lift force on a planter row unit plays as big of a part in even emergence as downforce.  Lift force will help avoid side wall compaction while still maintaining adequate seed depth.

Let us help you with these management decisions to attain even emergence and a picket fence stand.  Call 1-877-GO-LATHAM to schedule a Data Forward Needs Assessment.