Corn planters rolling on the South Plains

Reported by: Rebecca Rivers
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Updated: 5/22/2013 9:55 am

Planting across the nation is running way behind schedule, with obstacles ranging from flooding in the Midwest to May 8 freezes here at home.

But despite the not so cooperative weather patterns, producers must make the decision to go ahead and plant.

Jeff Miller with DuPont Pioneers said that once corn planters get rolling, they'll be done before we know it.

"We've got some guys that have already planted, and gone through a couple of freezes this year," Miller said. "But the corn planting is about to start rolling across the whole area and will probably be over in a few weeks."

Miller said there are aspects of planting that farmers can control unlike the weather. The nodal root development for corn takes place about three-quarters of an inch below the surface of the soil, so planting depth can make a big difference.

"There's a couple of things that we've got to keep in mind," Miller said. "The first is that you stick it down deep enough. We recommend somewhere between that 2 - 2.5 inch range to make sure you go down after that moisture."

Seed spacing is the other driving factor to an acceptable yield later on. This Hockley County producer is going by a seven inch spacing between plants. 

"The other thing that we're out here doing is checking the seed spacing," Miller said. "We've got this here and we're looking at about a 2 inch seed depth which is what we were talking about. He's stuck down in the soil, of course I've scraped a little dry dirt in there, but he's got pretty good soil moisture. We want to make sure that there's good seed to soil contact. We're shooting for a population of somewhere around 30,000 and so he's sticking five seeds every two feet."

The producer has also prepped the field accordingly, planting rye grass as a cover crop that will help shade and protect young corn plants from the sun and blowing dirt.

"Seed bed preparation is very critical," Miller said. "Right here we're looking at some strip tillage where they've tilled up a strip of ground that's about 8-10 inches and dug down about 8 inches to make sure that we've got nice loose, soft soil down there and make sure it's not too clotty."

Along with helping with seed depth, Miller also helped the producer pick a drought tolerant variety that would work well on his farm. It will also allow for irrigation to move off the corn field to a cotton crop in late July.

"What this farmer is planting here is one of our new AquaMax hybrids," Miller said. "It's called P-96-90-HR and it's a 96 day hybrid. So we're planting a shorter season hybrid to hopefully get in here, get it started, beat the heat there that we get around the 4th of July so that we're not tasseling in the wrong time of year." 

If the remainder of the growing season goes well, this corn field will be harvested sometime in mid to late August.


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