We finally have the planters put away in many areas in the last few weeks (except for our southern folks who are double cropping soybeans.) So in my mind, it’s the perfect time to start talking about planters again. Before you click the back button and go on to the next thing in your feed, give me 3 minutes to explain why now.
Your planter is probably the single most important piece of machinery on your farm. Think about it, just about anything else that you own, such as your primary tractor, combine, corn head, etc… you could have a replacement rented and continue to operate quickly. And any of those borrowed pieces would allow you to operate fairly stress-free. But now think about your planter. If you had to switch planters in the middle of the season, what would that do to your stress level? I imagine it would peg it out. And the reason why is it is already a high-stress time for sure, but for many of you, the planter is the most personal piece of equipment you have. Monitors are set up just the way you want them configured, residue managers, closing wheels and more. You have spent a lot of time, energy, and money to get your planter to where it is today.
But here is why I say now is the time to talk about this. All of that energy that you have put into your planter has got you what you have now, but while it is still fresh in your mind, do you have the planter you want and need? This is a dicey question for me to ask, because again, it is personal. As you reminisce on the planter this past season, I want you to be very honest with yourself as you answer these questions. Was your planter everything that you wanted or needed it to be? Did it handle the soil moisture conditions that we had? Did it provide the spacing quality, uniformity of emergence and stand to maximize this year’s yield? While you were running it, did it alert you to problems that were happening so you could address them right away instead of waiting until your crop emerged?
I hope that if you are honest with yourself, and come to the conclusion that your planter was exactly what you needed. But, if you got done and had an annoying feeling in the pit of your stomach, I think you know what the truthful answer is. So what can you do about it? Your choices come down to two things. You can either trade planters with no assurance that what you are getting is any better until we get done with 2017 planting, or you can start working on your current planter.
This year we have many upgrades coming from aftermarket companies to improve your existing planter. For far less than what it would cost to trade, we can add a better display, electric drives, and row by row downforce that will let you add a level of comfort and control to your planting operation. Or, if you have been using those technologies, and are ready to unlock more potential yield from your field, it may be time to examine what options we have for multi-hybrid planters and the prescriptions our ACS team is ready to create to go with them.
I hate to do this to you, but this is a teaser. Over the next several weeks when we aren’t talking about irrigation management, we are going methodically revisit this planter topic, and methodically examine the pieces one at a time as far as upgrades go to the planter. But I want you to remember this moment and the gut feeling you have about your planter. That is because time heals all wounds, and by the time we are done harvesting, other things like pivots, combines, lines at the elevator and other worries are going to replace those memories of planting 2016. I want to see those memories erased by putting a plan in place to make sure they aren’t repeated, not erased by time.