How to get a good corn stand
To maximize corn yield, you need to have good crop stands. What can you do to increase the chances of finding good stocks without sacrificing higher returns? A well-matched planting implement, timely planting, proper soil conditions, well-drained soil, quality seed, and favorable weather conditions are all important.
Planting machine with top performance. You did your maintenance out of season. Perhaps you have replaced worn window openers. Now it’s time to plant. Is your plant monitor working properly? Operators who achieve near-perfect stands achieve 99% to 99.5% isolation. Does each row plant the seed at the same depth? Just because each row is planted in the same notch does not mean all rows are planted at the same depth. Dig and examine.
Timely planting. While I prefer early planting, it’s not always the best time to plant. What drives the emphasis on early planting? It is the desire to capture more sunlight. If we can both plant early and get a good stand, more energy should be converted into more corn. In general, early planting produces shorter plants with less root and stem stock, better quality grain, and lower moisture at harvest. Yes, you will maximize your yield potential if you plant in most of the corn belt before May 10-15. But you lose rather than gain by planting early at the expense of uniform stands.
Suitable soils. Some growing seasons prefer later planting to get a good footing rather than planting earlier in marginal soil conditions. If you get a reduced stand because the soils were too cold and wet, or the temperature patterns were against you, the yield will suffer. Corn does not compensate like soybeans. A stand of fewer than 28,000 plants per acre often means lower yields.
Well-drained soils. If fields are pattern tiled, you can plant several days before successfully planting fields without tiles. We have learned from experience that soil conditions in fields that are not well tiled are likely to be inconsistent, with isolated patches of wet when the rest of the field is suitable for planting.
High quality seed. We emphasized the importance of both warm and cold germ testing earlier this year. Check the seed label for a warm germination value. It is necessary. Most companies also do cold testing, but this score is not required on the label. In fact, most seed companies do not publish this information. Work with your seed supplier to get hybrids with good seedling vigor in fields that are likely to be cool and wet after planting.
Favorable weather. Paying attention to soil temperature and short-term weather forecasts can reduce the likelihood of hitting a bad planting time. At the same time, you increase the chances of planting during the first weather period in spring, when conditions are favourable.
Make sure ground temperatures are heading in the right direction. Look at the next three days. Is the prognosis favorable with warming air temperatures and sunshine? Or is there a strong possibility of cooler, cloudy days? When you have thousands of acres to plant, you may feel like you don’t have a choice. I still recommend paying attention to soil temperatures, soil moisture, and weather forecasts.
Nanda is Director of Genetics at Seed Genetics Direct, Jeffersonville, Ohio. E-mail [email protected] or call 317-910-9876. Please leave a message.