Blog > June 2020 > Stand Assessment

Stand Assessment

June 11, 2020

6.11.20 | Stand Assessment from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Tim Mundorf, CVA Nutrient Management Lead

It’s worthwhile to spend some time in your cornfields taking stand counts and assessing your stand compared to your planting population. While there, you can make some observations about the performance of your planter. It’s pretty easy to do. Bring a tape measure, small garden shovel, and your cell phone to use as a calculator and take some photos if you have questions about what you are seeing.

Once you have everything, visit several spots, drop a tape measure, and measure out 1/1,000 of an acre based on your row width. In 30 inch rows, this is 17 feet 5 inches. Count the number of plants in each of the two rows on either side of your tape, then average them out. Once you have your average number from your plant count, take this number times 1,000, and you have your population in this area. For example, if one row has 28 plants in 17 feet 5 inches, and the row next to it has 32 plants in the same distance. Your average population in this area is 30,000 plants/acre. This measurement should be repeated 5-6 times throughout the field and more often if you are finding a lot of variation.  

Another thing I like to do is take that row length in inches (209 inches for 17 feet 5 inches) and divide it by my population to get an average spacing between plants. Then I can move my tape measure over against the row to see how consistent my spacing is. For that 30,000 population, I should have about 7 inches between plants. Six inches or eight inches is generally ok, but 3 or 10 inches means I have some plants that are going to bully the plant next to them or open wasted space. I won't go into all of the possible causes here, but generally, you need to look at your planter or planting speed when you see a lot of closely spaced plants. If you see gaps, use your garden shovel to dig up the seed and find out if you planted a seed there. You need to know if the seed didn't come up, or if no seed was planted. This year we saw more than a few plants damaged by the May frost. Some of these plants did not make it out of the ground.  A judgment call also needs to be made when you see damaged plants or plants behind more than 1 leaf compared to the plants around them. Will those plants survive? Will they produce a decent-sized ear?

Below in figure 1, we see a frost-damaged plant that should survive and bounce back from this injury.

In Figure 2, we see a corkscrewed plant that has attempted to leaf out under the soil surface and will not survive. Corkscrewing happens when the germinating plant senses warmer soil above it and grows up. Latter cold temps chill the soil above while deeper soil stays warmer. Now the plant senses the warmer temps below it and starts to send the shoot down. When air and upper soil temperature increases later, the plant reverses itself again. Eventually, the plant may run out of the energy needed to push through the soil and die.  

Hopefully, these guidelines help you make a good assessment of your 2020 stand and understand some of the challenges that you might be able to address going forward.

Posted: 6/11/2020 12:59:21 PM by Kelli Reznicek | with 0 comments

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