Plant it Right with Good Planter Checks

Apr 25, 2023

Check and recheck planter while planting to ensure a good start for croop
Plans are set, seed is in the shed, and the snowbanks are melted.
Wait. That’s the ideal spring.
“I can still see snow piles . . . and a fresh couple of inches fell last week . . .but plans have been made and it’s time to start executing,” said Mike Slater, Federated ag sales agronomist at the Isanti location.
Check the planter.
“Make sure the planter is set and then continuously check it while in the field,” said Slater. Don’t assume it’s right. Just as your co-op checks the scales and sets the spreaders, you need to verify that your planter is set.
Set seed depth.
“You want to make sure [your planter] can deliver your seed not just in the ground, but in the ground at the correct depth, singulation, and population,” he said.
  • Ideal corn planting depth = 1.5–2” (which can be pushed to 2.5” in dry conditions)
  • Optimal soybean planting depth = 1–1.5’
Ensure these depths by making sure the correct “down pressure” is set on the planter. “Too light and the row unit will struggle to get down to the desired depth; too heavy and sidewall compaction can occur, causing rooting issues and growing delays,” said Slater.
Set seed population.
“If you have electric or hydraulic drives capable of variable rate seeding, this will be changing constantly,” he said, adding, “if you have chains and ground drives (like I do), you will need to get off and adjust population based on fields and hybrids.”
  • For light sands, plant at 26–28K population.
  • For heavier, better producing sands, you can push to 30–32K populations.
  • For silt loams or clay loams, 32–36K, depending on yield goal and hybrids.
    • Hybrids with a flex ear, such as Dekalb®44-80, can run lower populations, but its counterpart, Dekalb 43-75, which has a fixed ear, should run a little higher population.
Check seed singulation.
Seed singulation needs to be constantly checked while planting. “Unevenly spaced corn will rob yield fast by creating more competition and smaller ears,” said Slater. Precision planting data shows a 2–6 bu./ac. yield drop when singulation falls below 99%.
Bottom line: Carefully check the planter now and as you go – and dig for seed often throughout planting to make sure the seed is where you want it.
“You’re officially starting the groundwork for the year and it’s better to catch an issue before it turns into a $1,000+ mistake,” said Slater. Talk to your Federated Agronomist with any planting concerns.

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