ReachOut: Preventing the Bad Seed

ReachOut: Preventing the Bad Seed from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

Well.

It’s the second week of April.

Time for my usual speech, I think.

Planting: it’s too late to be early and too early to be late.  Am I right or am I right?

Anyone?  Anyone?

If you think you’ve heard it all before though, friends, think again.  I do sympathize that April seems to send me into the same fit year after year—I imagine that I must get a bit annoying to listen to.  But it’s PLANTING we’re talking about here, people.  The very most important time of our year.  And every year—every single stinkin’ year—brings us lessons to make the next one even better.

Last year gave us lessons by the bucketful.  If I learned one thing from our replanting experience, it’s that nothing is more important than the development of a plant early in its life.

Which has me thinking this year.  Most parts of our territory have received at least a little precipitation lately and it has us chomping at the bit to get out and fire up that planter.  (You better believe that I can’t wait to take my beautiful Eleanor for a spin.)  But I’ve been traveling far and wide across the territory lately, and I have to say that I’m not quite in love with the seed bed yet.  Some places it seems too hard, others too fluffy.  What it all needs across the board is a good, sweet soaking rain.

So wait to plant.

Think about it.  Last year taught us the importance of a good start for our plants.  What better way to start them right by tucking them in to a warm, inviting, and cozy bed?  Focus on just one seed for a second: you drop it into its sweet, perfect bed and its roots grow totally without inhibition.  They spread deep and wide, taking in water and nutrients at peak capacity.  The plant grows with efficiency and general all-around awesomeness.  It is better able to withstand drought, capable of overcoming nutrient deficiencies, and, in theory, is even more resistant to disease.  It asks less effort of you throughout the season and, ultimately, grants you the greatest gift of all, in thanks for your early TLC: fantastic yield.

Now think about that same seed, but this time, you drop it into a bed that is cold, hard, too wet or too dry.  Its roots struggle to establish themselves in the unwelcoming soil.  They struggle all season but get not far at all.  They are small and undeveloped, maybe driven in one direction by a hapless occurrence of sidewall compaction.  Because they are inhibited and crappy, they can’t uptake water and nutrients properly, and the plant grows up as inhibited and crappy as its roots.  It’s prone to flopping over though it requires your constant care and attention.  In the end, it gives up a disappointing yield indeed.

That is, if it ever germinates at all.  Some seeds just feel that cold, tough bed and say to hell with it.  Or worse, they laze around for a bit, germinate late, and become weeds.  Pity your poor seed if it becomes a weed—it’s probably better to not have it around at all, like your chronically late friend who shows up for pizza and beer, but missed helping you move that bed you needed help with or stain the deck or some other awful task. No one likes that guy.  Such a seed is literally the Bad Seed.  And we caused it.

Such a tragic story.  Such a good seed gone wrong.  Blame its environment.  Shake your head.

Don’t let your seeds become bad seeds.  The destiny of your corn plant lies in your hands: will you wait and plant it in a warm, inviting bed where it will be happy and thankful?  Or forge ahead and plant it in a bed that is harsh and crummy, where it will struggle and suffer?

Help your seeds, friends!  Make the right choice.  Read a book.  Build a chair.  Bake a cake.  Just wait.  Just a little bit longer.

Well.

It’s the second week of April.

Time for my usual speech, I think.

Planting: it’s too late to be early and too early to be late.  Am I right or am I right?

Anyone?  Anyone?

If you think you’ve heard it all before though, friends, think again.  I do sympathize that April seems to send me into the same fit year after year—I imagine that I must get a bit annoying to listen to.  But it’s PLANTING we’re talking about here, people.  The very most important time of our year.  And every year—every single stinkin’ year—brings us lessons to make the next one even better.

Last year gave us lessons by the bucketful.  If I learned one thing from our replanting experience, it’s that nothing is more important than the development of a plant early in its life.

Which has me thinking this year.  Most parts of our territory have received at least a little precipitation lately and it has us chomping at the bit to get out and fire up that planter.  (You better believe that I can’t wait to take my beautiful Eleanor for a spin.)  But I’ve been traveling far and wide across the territory lately, and I have to say that I’m not quite in love with the seed bed yet.  Some places it seems too hard, others too fluffy.  What it all needs across the board is a good, sweet soaking rain.

So wait to plant.

Think about it.  Last year taught us the importance of a good start for our plants.  What better way to start them right by tucking them in to a warm, inviting, and cozy bed?  Focus on just one seed for a second: you drop it into its sweet, perfect bed and its roots grow totally without inhibition.  They spread deep and wide, taking in water and nutrients at peak capacity.  The plant grows with efficiency and general all-around awesomeness.  It is better able to withstand drought, capable of overcoming nutrient deficiencies, and, in theory, is even more resistant to disease.  It asks less effort of you throughout the season and, ultimately, grants you the greatest gift of all, in thanks for your early TLC: fantastic yield.

Now think about that same seed, but this time, you drop it into a bed that is cold, hard, too wet or too dry.  Its roots struggle to establish themselves in the unwelcoming soil.  They struggle all season but get not far at all.  They are small and undeveloped, maybe driven in one direction by a hapless occurrence of sidewall compaction.  Because they are inhibited and crappy, they can’t uptake water and nutrients properly, and the plant grows up as inhibited and crappy as its roots.  It’s prone to flopping over though it requires your constant care and attention.  In the end, it gives up a disappointing yield indeed.

That is, if it ever germinates at all.  Some seeds just feel that cold, tough bed and say to hell with it.  Or worse, they laze around for a bit, germinate late, and become weeds.  Pity your poor seed if it becomes a weed—it’s probably better to not have it around at all, like your chronically late friend who shows up for pizza and beer, but missed helping you move that bed you needed help with or stain the deck or some other awful task. No one likes that guy.  Such a seed is literally the Bad Seed.  And we caused it.

Blue BoxSuch a tragic story.  Such a good seed gone wrong.  Blame its environment.  Shake your head.

Don’t let your seeds become bad seeds.  The destiny of your corn plant lies in your hands: will you wait and plant it in a warm, inviting bed where it will be happy and thankful?  Or forge ahead and plant it in a bed that is harsh and crummy, where it will struggle and suffer?

Help your seeds, friends!  Make the right choice.  Read a book.  Build a chair.  Bake a cake.  Just wait.  Just a little bit longer.