Busting planting myths with data

Willie Vogt Ground-level view of corn rows
A GOOD START: For corn and soybeans, some commonly held beliefs may not be true. Granular and Pioneer dug through a lot of data to clarify key planting season tactics that could put more money in your wallet.
Granular and Pioneer analyze information to shine a light on some common misunderstandings, and create new opportunities.

Planters have started rolling across the Midwest, but are you doing it right? That's a question Pioneer Agronomy and Granular experts explored over the winter, and what they found may challenge your assumptions. First rolled out during Commodity Classic, the 2021 planting guide offers insight on three key areas for planting — and for many, it may be an eye-opener.

“From an agronomic standpoint, every farmer weighs when to start planting, what population to plant and at what planting depth to use,” says Mary Gumz, agronomy manager, Pioneer. Add in that varying conditions at every farm can impact those decisions, and it creates questions. Often, farmers operate on what are believed to be facts, but in truth may be myths.

Myth No. 1: Always plant corn before soybeans. “Really, crop type should not dictate what is planted first,” Gumz says. “Moving soybean planting earlier can impact yield, providing that plant a longer productive period with higher yield potential.”

Data analyzed by Granular, the data and insights business at Corteva, shows that every day past optimum planting date for soybeans can cut yield by 0.4 bushel per acre. Between April 20 and May 1, the data show a 40-bushel-per-acre loss in potential.

Myth No. 2: Seeding rate doesn’t vary much. “This should change from year to year,” Gumz says. She explains that working with an “economic seeding rate” can increase yield. For example, 30,000 seeds per acre for a 150-bushel yield can rise to 37,000 seeds per acre for a 240-bushel yield. However, that does depend on your seedbed, soil conditions and your yield goal. But a mismatched seed rate can cost up to $40 per acre, based on Granular’s data.

Myth No. 3: Shallow-planted crops emerge faster, driving higher yield. In fact, Gumz points out that data show shallow-planted corn will emerge unevenly, which can hit yield. “This can hurt yields as much as 20 bushels per acre, versus planting corn at 3-inches deep,” Gumz says. That 20-bushel-per-acre difference can cost you $80 per acre. Note, however, that when those figures were calculated, Granular was using $4 corn.

Adds Ken O’Brien, U.S. digital platform channel market leader, Granular: “Understanding the three myths and how to apply them on your farm can increase income by as much as $120 per acre. You don’t want to leave money on the table.”

He explains that the information developed for the 2021 planting guide involves analysis of millions of acres for multiple years to help bust those myths. “And we have free tools farmers can use to analyze their own data,” he adds.

Those tools include a website showing the data analysis that busts those three myths using state-specific data for the Midwest. There's also a customizable planting guide that farmers can use based on location and seed choice to determine proper seeding rate.

You can learn more by visiting granular.ag/plant21 to check out the state-by-state information and access the seeding rate calculator.

TAGS: Corn Soybeans
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