Christmas Morning – For Farmers It's In May

May 2, 2019

5.2.19 | Christmas Morning in May from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Three years ago this week I began writing these articles and doing these videos. In the three years that have come and gone, I have covered a lot of ground. One thing I have found is that I tend to gravitate toward some common topics each year, even though the timing isn’t always the same. We all know that Christmas is December 25th, and furniture and electronic stores like to promote Christmas in July. But for those of us in our area of the world, our Christmas day on the farm happens sometime in early May (usually.)

Watching days get crossed off the calendar after planting until emergence is much like an Advent calendar. Scratching the dirt and digging is the farmer's equivalent to shaking wrapping paper covered boxes. And while I could continue with silly similarities, the emotions and anticipation are no doubt parallel. Then it's finally here, the day that our crops emerge for the year. It's like being six years old again on Christmas morning and finally finding out that you got what your heart desired - green fields.

But the similarities don’t stop there. Sometimes your stand isn’t what you wanted or expected — kind of like getting socks from your Grandma. You are appreciative but disappointed.

The time for me to talk about the importance of consistency in seeding depth and planting into consistent moisture has passed. So, if you remember my 10 rules last week, it is going to be time to put rule #10 into play. Measure your planters’ performance in May and June. But what is the best way to do that you might ask? You have two choices, flags, or the Precision Planting Pogo.

What we are going to do is get ourselves 150 flags of one color, 50 flags of another color, and a black marker. On the day that your corn begins to emerge, I want you to go out and mark every plant that has come out of the ground with a flag that you have written “1” on. On day two, mark every new plant with a flag with “2” on it. On day three, mark every new plant with a flag with “3” on it. Then we aren’t going to come back until day ten, and mark any new plants with a “W” for weed. Finally, we are going to take our second color flag and mark any skips or doubles, or spacing that is off by more than two inches that we have out there. Do this in at least three spots to get an average of planter performance.

After day ten, we count. Count every “1” that we have out here, and divide by our target population, and so on for all of our different flags. For optimum yield, the percentage of emergence on day one and two combined should be 97% or better, with 85% or more emerging on the same day. If you have more than 5% emergence after day number three, call our equipment team. There is work to be done on your planter that will pay you back several times over. We also need to look closely at that second set of flags. If we have more than 3% for spacing error, doubles or skips, we have meter or seed tube issues we need to investigate.

Again this year though, our ACS Equipment team will have a chance to extend what we can do and take more measurements out in the field after the crop is up and growing through V5. Precision Planting developed an app called POGO Research that works with a tool we call the POGO stick. This tool digitally connects to our iPad and the tool to let us measure spacing, singulation, and emergence. The POGO platform isn’t a replacement for the flagging process on our fields. It is really looking at the horizontal placing of our seeds (meter and seed tubes), more than the vertical spacing (seeding depth and emergence.) But even with that being said, it will still give us the ability to “get an idea” of our emergence.

So this is where the Christmas analogy ends. Christmas is the end of the wants and desires that we had for the days and weeks leading up to that day. Emergence day is the visible payoff for planting, but it is just the beginning of a growing season that will have many emotions over the next several months. Doing this work at emergence time not only tells us about our planter performance, it also helps us core and rank fields for potential, and gives us tangible info to use as we make other decisions during the year. So relax and congratulate yourself on a job well done as the corn comes up, but stay after it, there is still a lot to do.

By Keith Byerly
 

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Today on SOIL TALK we are going to switch gears and talk about phosphorus. Phosphorus is an entirely different animal from nitrogen based on the way we apply it, the forms we apply it, the timing of when we apply it, and our ability to build our levels to rely on it to feed our crop. So on this episode lets discuss our recommendations and how we handle using phosphorus.

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Posted: 5/2/2019 11:54:11 AM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments