If you want to ensure plants come out of the ground at the same time, it all starts when seeds go into the ground. That’s key to getting the most from high-powered hybrids and varieties. It’s important to plan your strategies.
Between now and harvest, so many factors will influence how much grain goes in the bin come fall. Some of the biggest variables are beyond your control. Focus your efforts where you can have influence. Crop emergence, for example, is a convergence of several factors, many of which you can impact. That includes seed bed preparation, seed placement, fertility and weed competition.
Research suggests uniform crop emergence might be the most important factor in corn yield. A North Dakota State University study shows plants that emerge within a few hours of each other tend to produce ears of similar size and weight. Those lagging even by one leaf yielded 25 percent to 60 percent less grain. Iowa State University trials show when one-quarter of a field emerges a week late, yield drops by about 6 percent.
Some of the most important factors influencing crop emergence include:
- Uneven crop residue: This creates warm and cool spots that affect the ability of the crop to get up and growing.
- Soil temperature: Cool soils delay germination and growth. Cool spots caused by crop residue and other factors produce uneven emergence.
- Soil condition: Cloddy, crusty, rocky soils impact seed-to-soil contact and the plant’s ability to grow through the soil surface.
Plan your strategy for better crop emergence by considering where you left off last fall: How much crop residue cover remains? Did you complete fall tillage? Did you receive enough winter moisture to aid crop residue breakdown? Depending on your answers, plan to address these areas:
Tillage that’s just right. Vertical tillage can help break up heavy crop residue. Case IH True-Tandem™ disk harrows provide true-tandem technology for straight, easy pulling and maximum pass coverage. A field cultivator or seed bed conditioner may provide the pass you need to create the ideal seed bed.
Create a clear path. Row cleaners can provide rows that warm evenly. Consider upgrading your Early Riser® planter with the latest technology from Precision Planting, Inc. It’s not too late to add CleanSweep® from Precision Planting so you can adjust residue managers from the tractor cab. Air cylinders provide flexibility and enhanced performance to clear residue without going too deep and creating trenches.
Ideal seed environment. Maintaining the proper seed depth across the field, along with good soil-to-seed contact and the optimum soil pressure around the seed, can help ensure uniform germination and emergence. The industry-leading Early Riser row unit has 12 unique features that help get the job done. Through Case IH Agronomic Design℠, Early Riser planters consistently produce earlier, more uniform emergence and higher yield potential.
Be patient. Wet, cool soils mean delayed, uneven emergence. Set your temperature target at 50 F before putting the planter in the field. Planting in too-wet soils can create compaction problems that will plague a field from emergence through harvest and into future growing seasons. It’s tough to wait when the planter’s loaded and you’re ready to roll, especially in a late spring. But allowing a couple days of additional dry time can pay off big time.
Wet or dry, warm or cool, early or late — this planting season could be all of these. Giving some thought now to how you can eliminate barriers to uniform crop emergence can help you manage those variables. Talk to your Case IH dealer about how the right equipment — or adjustments to existing equipment — can get your crop off to the best start possible.