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Field day: Slower planter speed helps better yields
Ohio Correspondent

HASKINS, Ohio — Optimum planter speed, seed depth and plant populations were the main topics of a corn and soybean crop field day on Aug. 31 at the Agriculture Incubator Foundation.

The field day was hosted by the Garst Seed Co. of Slater, Iowa, and led by Terry Hoover, who conducted the experiments, and Eric Anderson, an Indiana-based Garst agronomist.

Hoover planted several rows of corn comparing a 4-mile-per-hour speed with 8 miles per hour. The seeds planted at 4 mph were more uniformly spaced, while the higher speed placed seeds more eratically with larger gaps between some seeds and some in clumps.

“That’s the stuff that really kills you,” Anderson said.

There was a difference in yield, he noted, among ears randomly chosen from each row.

“The 8-mph ears were a little smaller,” he said, which can a big difference in yields.

“When you really crank it up you’re losing yield and that’s completely within your control,” Anderson said. “When you pump it up a gear you’re throwing your money away.”

Anderson said planter calibration can also make a big difference. He said producers can often get a 5 bushel-per-acre yield increase after calibrating their planter.

In a planter depth study, Hoover planted seeds between 1 and 3 inches deep and found 1.5-2 inches was optimal.

While weather conditions were good during emergence this year, he said depth variations can make differences in the root system development. Seeds that are planted too deep might have trouble emerging in more difficult conditions.

Anderson said checking planter settings in each field is important. “Treat each field like it is a different field,” he said.

Another demonstration showed the difference between using 200 units of nitrogen on corn, compared to using none. Hoover admitted that was an unplanned test, but it showed a dramatic difference in the size and color of the plants.

Anderson noted there is a Western corn rootworm variant that started in Illinois and now is common in Indiana and is moving into Ohio. The test plot was used as a station for a rootworm trap. “It seems to be very variable,” Anderson said. “Ohio has had little, but numbers seem to be increasing in some areas.”

He recommended farmers be aware of the new variety and watch for it. Corn rootworm in an ongoing problem and the best control is usually crop rotation.

“This insect has evolved with corn for more than 100 years,” Anderson said.

The test plots also highlighted the use of Syngenta’s crop protection products and the performance of several varieties and corn and soybean seeds.

This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.