Soil preparation and precise planting are keys to optimizing corn yield potential. The University of Georgia (UGA) and University of Arkansas (U of A) Cooperative Extension Services offer the following insight into helping Southern farmers achieve this goal.
Soil Management And TillageIn addressing its state’s specific needs, UGA Extension says, “Water erosion is a significant problem on many Georgia soils during the high rainfall, winter months. Wind erosion can be a problem on sandy Coastal Plain soils in early spring when blowing sand can severely injure young corn plants. Crop residue left on the soil surface or a seeded cover crop effectively reduces water erosion problems. Using minimum-till planting practices such as strip-till or slittill helps reduce soil losses and “sand blasting” from wind erosion.
“Compaction layers or traffic pans (dense areas) are present in many, if not most, of the sandy, Coastal Plain soils in Georgia. These traffic pans restrict root growth and thus affect water and nutrient uptake by the plant. Traffic pans or dense soils should be disrupted by deep turning, V-ripping, paraplowing, chisel plowing or by in-row subsoiling during planting. In-row subsoiling has increased corn yields more than 50 percent on soils where traffic pans were present. It enables corn plants to develop deeper root systems, which make better use of subsoil moisture and improve chances of recovering nutrients as they move through the soil.”
Four Steps For Precise Planting
The University of Arkansas Extension Service says that precision planting is of utmost importance in achieving high yields in Southern corn production. U of A recommendations note, “Uneven plant spacing and emergence may reduce corn yield potential. Seed should be spaced as uniformly as possible within the row to ensure maximum yields, regardless of plant population and planting date.”
U of A Extension also suggests that corn producers try to follow these four steps for precision planting:
- Calibrate the planter at the speed intended for planting. Don’t risk obtaining a misleading seeding rate from slow speeds.
- Calibrate on a hard turnrow to be able to locate all the seed and assure that the rate is approximately correct before taking the planter to the field. (If a seed monitor displays population per acre, verify that the monitor is displaying values that coincide with actual seed counts behind the planter. Multiple seeds don’t trigger a response if they pass the sensor together. Seed monitors are helpful to warn you about skips, malfunctioning rows or undesirable seeding rates. However, they will not detect erratic spacing between seeds).
- Check behind the planter in the field to verify that seed placement, depth and spacing are exactly what you intend. Once seed is planted, it is hard to be sure that you’ve found all the seed. Roughly prepared ground bounces the planter units and may shift seeding rates either up or down.
- Check the planting rate every time you change seed size or hybrid. These changes, as well as seed treatments or field roughness, may cause multiple seed drops or skips.
Additional Planting Considerations
“Vacuum seed selection planters typically achieve the most uniform plant densities followed by plateless or finger pickup seed selection,” U of A Cooperative Extension Service adds.
With all other factors equal, maximum yields occur when corn is placed uniformly deep into the soil with uniform spacing between seeds. Producers should follow the manufacturer’s recommended planting speeds.”