Plant 2014: Make it a successful one

With the long-term weather forecast looking promising, we might be eager to head out to the fields and start planting, however, I would recommend the use of caution.

The desire to head out to the fields and do some planting might sound good, but we would want to make absolutely sure the seed bed is ideal. Mother Nature has been cruel so far this year, but that doesn’t mean we are not too far behind schedule.

Before we start planting, there are important points I want to emphasize to keep in mind this growing season. A recent article by DuPont Pioneer listed the Top 3 factors which limit continuous corn yields. Soil nitrogen supply, continuous corn history and weather conditions were listed as the factors. I could not agree more with the three points.

Soil nitrogen supply is a very important part of the growing process. Nitrogen is an incredible fertilizer for the corn plant. The corn plant determines the number of rows of kernels on an ear within the first 25 days of growth. Therefore, it is very crucial the corn has all of the fertilizer it needs, at the proper times, to produce more rows of kernels and achieve maximum yields.

It’s well discussed that having continuous corn planted on a field has a detrimental effect on that field’s yield potential. I would recommend considering rotating that field into soybeans every other year or every third year, if this is a point that raises concern.

Lastly, I cannot control Mother Nature into giving us ideal weather for growing conditions. This was obvious since we had such a long and snowy winter. Having the right amount of rainfall, at the ideal times, with cool nights will go a long way into helping the corn crop reach its maximum yield potential.

Though the article ends after three factors, I would advise a few more points which are important to keep in mind before the planters are out in numbers.

Field conditions should be another consideration before planting. This is because one of the detrimental points of yield loss is compaction. If the ground is wet and soft early on and dries later in the season, it could create a hard surface and put unneeded stress on the corn and soybean plants. With the planters having the capacity to plant more rows than in years past, we can plant more acres in a shorter amount of time.

Therefore, we can afford to wait a little longer for ideal planting conditions before we push the envelope too soon. Sometimes it’s more important to know when not to go to the fields as well as when to go to the fields.

My second point to consider is hybrid selection. DuPont Pioneer has a great slogan of “Right Product, Right Acre.” I would have to agree this would be one of the most important decisions a grower can make. I would recommend sitting down with your seed dealer and discussing what types of hybrids should be planted where.

Nowadays, each corn hybrid has a specialty that has been bred for a certain field environment. Even an early planting plan can help shift a great year into a fantastic year.

After we get the crops planted, so begins the crop scouting. I know from experience that going out and scouting fields is a very critical point all season long. We do not want to miss an issue we can remedy. However, the notes we take and keeping them for the long-term can be a problem. A smart phone or tablet application like Encirca View is a great way to keep all crop scouting notes together in one place and organized. Then, at any point in the year, we can go back and look at those notes and even share them with other members of the operation or with anyone outside the operation, for instance the local co-op.

I know in our own family farming operation, with the latest technology, we can divide and cover a lot of ground while scouting. We can then come back together and show pictures and our notes of what we saw. This saves us a lot of time when it comes to making decisions.

We are antsy as well to get into the fields and start planting. We know that a little patience can pay huge dividends in the fall. Please be safe and have a productive “Plant 2014!”

Matthew Denton resides in Princeton and is an associate representative with White Oak Ag Inc.