By Clint Thompson
Planting season is underway across the Southeast. Growers can save time and money by making modifications now before planting in certain fields.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Ag Engineer Wes Porter reminds cotton and peanut farmers the importance of correct planter settings.
“Whether it’s cotton or peanuts, when we first pull into a new field, evaluate the field conditions. You need to evaluate field variability and the approximate soil moisture, just to get an idea if that field is really dry,” Porter said. “Is it really wet? Or is it somewhere in between where we really like for planting? Based on that, we need to look at setting our depth and downforce.”
Wet Vs. Dry Conditions
If field conditions are really wet, you don’t need as much downforce. Too much, especially in the southeast where light clay is mixed with sandy loam soil, leaves the farmer vulnerable to crusting. Producers will struggle with crop emergence. If conditions are dry, with heavier dirt, the producer needs a little bit heavier downforce. If not, no matter how deep you set the planter, you’re not going to hit your target depth. And you’re already set up for failure.
Porter advises growers to plant a little bit of a field. Then get out, dig the seeds up and check to make sure the desired depth is achieved.
All the pre-planting modifications are necessary to ensure a proper plant stand will emerge and avoid as much re-planting as possible.
“If we look now, and we ask ourselves, what is one of our big production costs this time of year, it’s seed. We can’t ignore that anymore. Seed costs are very expensive. One of the best things we can do to protect that investment is make sure that planter is set up where we want it, where we need it and that we’re matching those field conditions,” Porter said. “We are going to have issues every year in certain fields where we’ll have to go back and evaluate whether we need to replant or not. We can help eliminate or reduce some of those issues by doing everything we can right now with that planter to set it up to match that field conditions. So, we’re putting that seed where it needs to be to maximize germination and emergence.”
For more information, see planter setup.