A week ago, Mike Zwingman was nudging you to do a few things, and among them was check your stalk quality. And that got me thinking about the other things we should be looking into right now. I know we have talked about it at multiple stages through the year, but again, this is a great opportunity to evaluate your planter performance.
Of course, I want you to note the obvious things like clutches turning off too early or soon so that we can fix those for next year, but I want to go deeper. As you get into these corn fields, from your cab you can do a pretty good job of evaluating your planter’s performance. Watching skips and double in your stand is fairly easy at 3.5 mph. Identifying inconsistencies in our planting depth is possible too. Watching the consistency of the tops of our plants is a good indication. Watching the consistency of the ear height is a better one. I’m not going to bore you with the math, but an 8-row head has about 70 ears per second coming into it on average. If you are noticing an inconsistency in ear height from the combine seat, you’re talking about a good percentage of plants that are affected.
I’m not going to go back and rehash the reasons why ear height is in inconsistent, but in a nutshell, I feel good about saying that your planter’s downforce system is the tool responsible for addressing the inconsistencies. So the good news is, going into 2017 planting, we have more tools at our disposal to address this on more planters than before. Ag Leader has added the Case Planters for both Hydraulic DownForce and Electric Drives, along with options for Deere, Kinze, and White. Of course, we have similar tools available from Precision Planting as well. Each System has its advantages and the ACS equipment team works with growers every day to help them pick the right piece of equipment.
But, I want you to be more engaged in this study of what’s going on this harvest. Every Yield monitor has the ability to add a Mark or a Point to a field to identify something you have seen. As you are looking out the cab, use the monitor to record where you see something we need to study further. Even though the crop will be harvested, we can still do some things to identify the contributing factors to our variability. A good old fashioned compaction probe will help us identify many problems. As long as tillage isn’t done, we can still do stand counts on the stalks and look at their diameter.
I am going to keep harping on this one point, time heals all wounds. I don’t want 3 months to go by and then you don’t recall the pain point from this year. Keep records and look at them. I can still show you at current commodity prices where a 2-3% increase in your Net Effective Stand pays for a DownForce system in around 1,000 acres.
The philosopher George Santayana was the one who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I don’t want that to happen to us.