Most of farming hinges on the weather. But you can manage the remaining 30% of variables: seed traits, drainage, population, crop nutrients, weed and insect control.

Technology like variable-rate planting, genetics, seed treatments, aerial imagery, geo-referenced soil samples, starter fertilizer and late-season sidedressing are tools for wringing out extra yield.

“An entire year’s income is largely determined in the six days you plant your corn crop,” says Justin Welch, Alexandria, IN, agronomist.

“That leaves 359 days of the year to scout fields, manage weeds and insects,” Welch adds. Your job is to figure out the limiting factors on yield.

“Often various factors work cumulatively. For example, racehorse hybrids typically have weak stalks. Potash affects stalks, so I place them on great soils and/or check potash levels to avoid stalk issues.”

The growing season is like a circle, Welch says. “You begin with your soil type, drainage and productivity, nutrient-holding capacity and fertility. You choose your genetics accordingly and then plant them at a rate best of each combination of factors.

“Another variable is planting consistency. Do you plant at 6 mph or 5.2 mph? It makes a difference.”

Salsbery uses a Precision Planting 20/20 monitor to insure even seed spacing.


December 2010