Last week I saw a post on Facebook that had a picture of a sheet that Kasper Ag Solutions out of Illinois had put out. It was the Ten Commandments of Corn Planting. It had some catchy sayings on it like “Plant in the dust, and your bins will bust." "Plant in the mud and your year is a dud!” Old “rule of thumb” things that we often take for granted when we get into the middle of battle. After a few days of thinking on it, I concluded that perhaps that list needed to be tweaked a little to reflect what it is like here in the Western Corn Belt.

So today I present to you “Keith’s 10 rules of Planting Corn in the Western Corn Belt.”  I have borrowed a couple from the other list I saw, but mainly these are rules that I myself, or other Agronomists here at CVA, have been promoting for several years. I know I may not have the poetic flair of others, but here they are.

1. Don’t plant by the calendar. Your seed doesn’t care what day, week, or month that it is. If you have to go plant “early,” go plant soybeans.

2. Always plant into a soil that is warming. Yield is lost when we plant into a cooling soil. Starts and stops take energy and rob yield.

3. If you have the feeling you are doing something wrong, STOP! You are probably doing something wrong. Trust your gut and don’t just keep going.

4. Just because you have a downforce system doesn’t mean you can plant a day sooner after a rain without consequences.

5. Row cleaners are not a tillage tool. Adjust them to move trash/residue, not soil. If conditions change, move them.

6. Fixing a planting/emergence/stand problem after it is planted is expensive, time-consuming, and almost impossible.

7. Slow down! (or get SpeedTube and DeltaForce)

8. G.O.A.L. Get Out And Look. The most important tool you have in the tractor cab to ensure you are doing a good job is the door handle.

9. The right seed depth is the one that places the seed in an adequate moisture to germinate evenly. Several factors mean that this depth changes. Refer back to rule #8.

10. A new planter isn’t going to fix your problems. A planter that does it job better, and/or better choices will. Measure your planters performance in the month of May and June (flag test emergence and stand) don’t just guess. Then, address the issue before the planter goes back into the shed for the next 10 months and you forget about it.

I would certainly be passing up an opportunity if I didn’t expand on a couple of these further at this time. Rule #2, for instance, warrants a bit more discussion. The reason we always want to plant into soils that are, or will be warming is simple. Once the seed gets the moisture that it needs to imbibe the only thing with its foot on the gas and brakes is temperature. Soil cools down, plant stops and now is in a state of purgatory until it warms up again. Planting into a warming soil greatly reduces the time your seedling spends in purgatory.

Rule # 5 that planters are not a tillage tool needs to be taken to heart. Over aggressiveness with row cleaners mess with seeding depth and cause emergence issues; issues we often blame on other parts, or our own failures like Rule #8, choosing the seeding depth. Row cleaners don’t have to move 100% of the residue. That’s why opener disks are sharp.

I know that as we all get into the fields and are planting as fast as we can that it is hard to think about anything other than the next field on the list. But with so much on the line right now, we can’t afford to ignore the details. Call it stepping over dollars to pick up dimes, or whatever analogy you want. But at the heart of it all is still one simple notion. Details and agronomics pave the way for success, not just speed and technology.

Source: Central Valley Ag