It is always a great feeling when you’re done planting and are ready to clean up and put the planter away. However, as the plants start to emerge, take some time and check out your fields. It may pay you a big bonus! As you go out to your field(s) take along a trowel and knife plus be prepared to take some notes as you inspect those newly planted fields.
Uneven Emergence and Stands - dig with your trowel and assess things.
• Was the seed placed in both wet and dry soil and did poor seed to soil contact occur in some areas?
• Are you seeing areas with poor seed furrow closure?
• Are the slower emerging seedlings planted in heavy trash areas that stimulated cooler soil or maybe caused the planting units to be lifted up more; or on the extreme, did the trash cause hair pinning?
• Does the depth of the seed vary because of clods or root clumps related to planter speed?
• Was the seed planted in wet conditions where mud accumulated on the depth gauge wheels?
• Are you seeing any insect pressure (wireworm is an example)?
• Don’t forget about gophers and turkeys digging up seed.
• Does the field have dramatic soil type changes or other problems to note?
• Are there areas where the soil was compacted by equipment or livestock tracks and/or truck load out areas?
• Are you seeing any chemical or fertilizer problems?
Planting in Cool or Wet Soil - can cause a lot of emergence problems.
• If soils were wetter when the field was planted, check for sidewall compaction.
• If soils were cold and overly wet, check for seed imbibition or see if germinating seedlings are “corkscrewing”.
• Are the slower/delayed seedlings in areas where the soil crusted?
• Check for cutworm, white grub or other insect problems.
• Are seedlings damping off in areas due to some soil borne pathogen. (Might see more in trashy areas.)
• If you use seed rebounders, did they drag any seed?
• Note if there were wet areas and where they were in the field around the time it was planted.
Planting in Cool or Dry Soil - can cause emergence problems too.
• If you are putting higher rates of fertilizer in furrow, check for fertilizer burn to the seedlings.
• If you are you seeing seeds that germinated and started to root and then died, they may have run out of moisture.
• Check for poor seed to soil contact, were there any clods?
Are You Seeing Doubles / Triples or Skips?
• Make sure you note this so that the planter problem is remedied before it is put in the ground again.
• Be sure to note any areas that indicate potential for weed problems and escapes.
• For future reference note any problem insect areas too.
These are some things to consider but be sure to check those fields; it may prevent a few headaches and pay you big dividends too!