Several companies emphasized planter maintenance and the need for good stands at winter and spring meetings. One of those was Stewart Seeds.
Brian Denning, an agronomist with Stewart Seeds, reported in a recent issue of the company newsletter Crop Flash that those efforts appear to have paid off.
"For the most part we achieved pretty good stands," he says. Denning covers southern Indiana and Kentucky. "I've been very impressed with corn plant spacing this year. I have taken several plant stand spacing field measurements and it seems spacing has even improved from last year. The hard work and investment … in calibrating planter units and meters have certainly paid off it seems."
Denning reports that he summarized results from 32 different field measurements that he took earlier in the season. The standard deviation was 2.7, which he considers excellent.
Standard deviation is a measure of how uniform a stand is. If there are big gaps and doubles or triples in the same row, the standard deviation slips quickly, and can go as high as 4 to 6 or higher. When plants are fairly uniform, it is lower. About the best you could expect to get is about 2.0, he says.
"What standard deviation means to you is that it's a measurement of how far from a perfect spacing plants are, measured in inches," he explains. "A standard deviation of 2.7 means that, on average, plants are 2.7 inches away from dead center every time given a certain population."
Anything between 2 and 3 inches is considered very good, he says. He found these results in fields ranging from populations as low as 26,000 plants per acre to as high as 36,000 plants per acre. Overall, he believes farmers are listening to the message that stresses the need to calibrate planters and make repairs if necessary.