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5 decisions you could make in the field at planting time5 decisions you could make in the field at planting time

These last-minute decisions could impact the rest of the season.

Tom Bechman 1

May 4, 2016

2 Min Read

The soil is right, but two days of rain and cooler weather are in the forecast. Do you plant or not?

Sonny Beck’s rule is that when soils are still cool, and rain is in the forecast with cooler temperatures, hold off on planting. That’s especially true earlier in the season. Beck began his career as a farmer and seedsman, and today he is part of Beck’s family-owned seed business near Atlanta.

Here are five more last-minute tips that could make the difference among poor, good or better crops.

1. Stop the tractor and check the depth.


Is each row putting seed at the depth you want it to be? If you have a large planter, consider having someone else who is supplying the planter check while you keep running. Finding out later that even one row was planting at the wrong depth could affect yield.

2. Recheck correct depth as soil conditions change.

Dave Nanda, a crops consultant, says it’s a dilemma as old as farming. How deep should you plant corn? A previous study indicated that planting deeper may be more forgiving than planting too shallow, especially as soil temperatures warm up. If you’ve been planting for a few days and it hasn’t rained, shouldn't you recheck depth to make sure all seeds are being placed in moisture if it’s still available at a deeper depth?

3. Recheck down pressure on row units as conditions change.

Especially if you don’t have one of the newer systems that control downforce either by hydraulics over the planter or row by row, you will want to keep an eye on down pressure. The force you set on the units at the start of the season may not be the force you need as weather conditions change.

4. Make sure the slot is still being closed after closing wheels.

Usually as it gets later in the season and soils dry, it is easier for closing wheels to cover and close the slot. However, if you restart after a rain, check to see if the ability of the closing wheels to close the slot has changed. It often becomes an issue in no-till, especially no-tilling soybeans into cornstalks.

5. Do you want to adjust the seeding rate? 

Are you changing seeding rates with hybrids? If so, have you remembered to adjust seeding rate as you shift from hybrid to hybrid? If you are varying seeding rates, is the right prescription showing up for each field?

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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