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Evaluating Corn Stands During Harvest

by Oct 12, 2011SeedCommand®

The corn planter is one of the most expensive implements a farmer can own.  Although the planter can only perform one function, it is a extremely important one, and during the winter months you may want to inspect and service the planter.  Harvest is a great time to take a minute and look at the plant population and stand spacing.  Research has shown that when a planter is out of adjustment and operated at too high of speed, it could cut yield up to 20 bushels per acre.

Some important factors related to yield loss are:

  • Improper seeds per acre.
  • Improper seed spacing.
  • Improper planting depth.
  • Poor seed to soil contact.

Seed Placement
Take a look at the spacing of your stalks.  When there is a large gap on either side, the plant may produce larger ears to help compensate for missing plants.  On the other side of this, if they are not spaced correctly due to doubles or triples, the plants compete ineffectively for sunlight, water, and nutrients.  Crowding plants often results in small ears when harvested.  There have been several studies that prove proper spacing potential can improve yield from 4-12 bushels per acre.  Oftentimes, poor plant spacing is due to misadjusted or malfunctioning planter mechanisms. 

Ag Leader offers Advanced Seed Monitoring, which allows growers to monitor how the planter is performing.  Monitoring planter performance may give you a clue that the planter needs maintenance such as bushings, parallel linkages, chains, lubricated parts and seed tubes.  Ag Leader's Advanced Seed Monitoring screen allows growers to view doubles, skips, singulation, spacing, row population and seed quality.  This information provides the grower with piece of mind that yield potential is being maximized through utilization of real-time data. Locating problems during planting will help reduce frustrations at harvest time.

Population Count
Look back in your records and see what your target population was for the 2011 planter season. To get a stand count, Pioneer Agronomy Sciences* recommends:

Chart from Pioneer Agronomy Sciences”” />

  • Sample a length of row equal to 1/1000th of an acre.
  • Measure off the distance appropriate for your row width, count the number of plants and multiply by 1000 to obtain an estimate of plants acre.

How did that compare to what your target rate was?  If there are any discrepancies, take a look at your owner’s manual and examine your sprocket teeth drive and driven combinations.  Other things that come to mind are condition of your seed plates, gear ratio, zero flow offset, shaft speed cal, vacuum pressures, down force pressure, and seed meter calibration. Taking the time during harvest to evaluate your corn stands can help you determine what adjustments you may need to make to your planter during the winter.

*Pioneer Agronomy Sciences, Corn Stand Evaluation. Click here to see the original document.