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Value of Data: Crop Scouting

by Jun 13, 2011Value of Data

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up that some of the authors are farmers themselves.  Most of us work our normal hours here, and then take to the fields on the weekend or evenings to take care of the crops.  Some are directly involved with their own operation, and some help their family farm in the busy season.  So we often know the ups and downs of the lifestyle that our readers make a living from.

deep planted corn comparison

We are also subject to those production issues that make a person sigh in frustration when something goes wrong.  I had one such event this year on our farm.  As we started to plant soybeans and the corn was peeking through the ground, I noticed a regular pattern that one row was spotty in emergence and not emerged in other areas. We stopped planting to see what was happening and discovered that one row was placing seed 3.5 – 4 inches deep. 

We figured out what row was causing the problems and went to the planter to see what was causing the issue.  We discovered that a roll pin had been sheered at some point in the corn planting season and wasn’t engaging the gauge wheels to place the seed where we expected.  We generally dig  4-5 rows of the planter during setup to make sure the planter is set correctly at the time, but we just didn’t check this row.  We were lucky in the fact that we received some rains and heat to get 80-85% emergence on deep seed.  

corn emergence depth

However, the neighboring rows were at least 4-5 days ahead on emergence. So throughout the year, we’ll be watching to see how much a $.30 roll pin impacted the yield, and thus, the bottom line. My production problem was minor by comparison to some of those facing major planting problems this year with the heavy rains, flooding, and drought conditions in the US. 

While some areas face this one year or another, I don’t recall a time when it was this widespread and affected so many at the same time.  Our thoughts are with those that will have some long days, sighs of frustration, and big decisions throughout this growing season.