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  • Writer's pictureWendell Koehn

Power of the P's: PFR Proven Pre Plant Part 2: Practices

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” ― Aristotle

photo courtesy of Beck's Superior Hybrids

We talked about products in the previous article, which can be found here . Now, let's talk practices that Beck's Hybrids PFR team has found brings positive ROI to your farm. The awesome thing about what you do is there is not a cost to enter, so any changes you make that bring a yield bump results in an instant profit for you.

What small change to a setting on a planter could we make to improve our return on investment?

Planting is the most important pass of your operation. In part, this is because other operations on your crop have more flexibility in terms of timing, rates, or provide instant feedback to the operator of the success of the job. We will cover some of these critical components named above moving forward.

Timing -Early plant dates for corn are important, but correct conditions trump plant dates. Put another way, plant corn on the earliest date that has the correct conditions. So, it's April 5, the sun is shining, soil is crumbly and all the neighbors are rolling. But, you have a seed meter planting at a little less accuracy than the rest. What should you do? Listening to those who have farmed for many years, they will tell you that details like this when its go time will cost more to stop and spend hours on than to go with a slightly irregular stand. This is not to say that you shouldn't get out of the tractor and inspect. Periodic inspection of planter throughout the day can prevent small issues to become big and allow you to give quick tweaks to settings like depth as needed. But, as we sit here with wet weather, we plan on that planter being perfect. The above scenario is not to suggest that precision planting is not important, it is! Rather, as in all things farming; growers are always conducting risk assessments on what is the greater loss. Planting as early as the planting conditions warrant is shown in Beck's PFR to be the best

ROI practice to have.

Soy emergence comps from 2019

A quick word on soybeans. For most of us, that operation is down the road yet, but it is worth mentioning if you can logistically do it, it pays to plant soybeans in April. The PFR team has a quote that on soybeans "Every population planted early beats any population planted late." Soybeans are actually more critical to planting date than conditions. The final stand is less a problem to a certain degree than corn as they compensate for loss of stand. This especially holds true when planted early. The later one gets into the season the more population must be planted to achieve optimum yield for that plant date. At the end of the day, nodes per acre defines yield more than plants per acre. Early planting gives more sunlight hours to the bean plant which potentially increases branching off.

  • Depth -I will quote this statement from our Crop Shop meeting on March 3 for explanation on depth importance on corn: "Since the depth at which the emerging seedling senses the change in red to far red light is fairly constant, the resulting depth of the crown (base) of the coleoptile is nearly the same (1/2 to 3/4 inch) for seeding depths of one inch or greater." Thus, when corn seed is planted shallower than this there is not enough room for the mesocotyl and the crown, which pushes the nodal roots too high to establish in the soil causing shallow corn syndrome. There is another observation I have personally made on corn planted deeper vs shallower. Planting shallower than 1.5-1 ¾" subjects the corn seed to temperature & moisture swings. I noticed shallower seed came up faster, but deeper seed had more steady growth when it emerged. Speaking a bit on tillage and depth, when checking seed after a heavy rain, it was observed that the seed that had been planted in the undisturbed soil profile was sitting in moist dirt, while the top 1 ¾" loose soil was saturated from the inches of rain that had fallen. The rain water quickly filled the loose dirt, then slowed when it hit the end of the worked dirt leaving the seed protected from heavy rain. Another thought to think about is cloddy dirt. Temperatures from cold nights will penetrate deeper in the soil on roughly tilled dirt than fine soils. Consider using an implement as shallow as it will work and stay level in the soil to limit erosion, soil structure collapse, & cloddy soil conditions. VT implements are really good for this. My own observations aside, Beck's PFR 3 year planting depth study places 2" as the optimum depth for yield. Here is the white paper on that.

Soybean depth, is less about the root system like corn and more about other factors that affect yield. Here again, risk assessment on rain forecast, soil moisture, and ambient air temperatures as well as soil temperatures weigh on this matter. PFR studies show yield peaks at 1 ½" of planting depth. Here is a challenge for you to consider. This planting season, make several passes of 1.5" and then go back to the depth you wish to plant it at. Mark the spot with your planter monitor by naming it e.g. 4991X2 1.5, for example so you can walk out in the field at emergence with your FARMserver app and inspect the difference on final stands. Also, your combine will then be able to track it in the fall without using a weigh wagon. FARMserver will be able to pull the data out later in a report. Below is the planting population study from PFR on this topic.

As always, this is to get us started. You are not alone in this planting season. Call anytime anywhere for any assistance you might need! Be careful! 417-684-5301

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