Pay attention to detail a little more and you'll increase corn yields, advises Kevin Kimberly, a consultant who shared his planting expertise with nearly 600 farmers during a series of planter and field preparation clinics held recently in South Dakota.
South Dakota Corn Growers Association in conjunction with the Risk Management Agency hosted the Growing On Clinics.
Kimberley stresses the importance of seed-to-soil contact and even emergence. He showed dozens of slides to illustrate mistakes that people made and to explain how to avoid those problems.
A common problem when planting is not having enough down pressure, he says.
He says that you need to get out of your tractors after starting to plant a field and check the seed-to-soil contact and press wheels.
Equipment often needs to be adjusted to ensure it is planting at the correct depth and packing the dirt around the seeds, he says.
Seeds that are packed properly will swell up quicker and emerge more evenly.
Different steps may be needed, depending whether the soil is wet or dry, hard or loose. This past year, a lot of ground was really hard after water sat on it.
In tilled fieldsif there are big, loose holes, farmers should go back out and level off the soil, Kimberley advises.
That will help get the moisture down to the seeds if we have a dry spring.
In no-till fields, look for sidewall lift and use closer wheels to help seed make contact with soil.
Regarding trash wheels, Kimberley says there's not one specific wheel that is made for everyone.
A Minnesotan has designed an adjustable trash wheel that uses air bags – "this will be the future," Kimberley says. Farmers should use floating trash wheels because ground isn't level.
When ground is fluffy, he said it needs to be packed more.
Kimberly says that many farmers side dress corn too late. Side dressing should start when corn is 4 to 6 inches tall. At that stage, the plants fill out better and grow more.
Source: SD Corn Growers Association