Corn Planting Preparations

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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Corn Planting Preparations

Crop and Soil Environmental News, March 2007
Wade Thomason, Extension Grains Specialist

It will soon be time for Virginia corn planting to begin in earnest.  According to the Virginia Agricultural Statistics Service, 20 percent of the state’s corn crop is normally planted by April 15.  With this in mind, it is definitely time for growers to begin thinking about what must be done prior to planting.
This year corn seed demand is quite strong throughout the country.  Those in the seed industry have told me that in Virginia, farmers will be able to get the hybrids they want (especially those who ordered early), but that we may have to take what we can get in terms of seed size and shape.  Research has proven that no kernel type consistently outperforms another.  However, variable seed spacing will reduce yields and planters that are not adjusted for changes in seed shape/size are much more likely to produce these unevenly spaced stands. Recent research from the Mid-West has reported yield losses of 2 to 3 bu/ac for fields with even minor variation in seed spacing and losses greater than 10 bu/ac with highly variable spacing.
Your particular planter manual is the best place to go for information about set up.  This year, anticipating a wide variety of seed sizes, growers will need to calibrate planters for each seed lot to optimize planter performance. 

A “cheat sheet” that includes seeds per lb for every seed lot and the appropriate planter setting necessary to achieve the desired population and seed distribution can be a valuable time-saving tool.  It saves having to check individual tags during the hectic planting rush and provides a central place for information so that when changing hybrids you have all the information necessary to adjust the planter to avoid variable seed spacing. 

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