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For the most part planting has concluded in Southwestern Ontario. If everything has gone perfectly for you this spring, great! I congratulate you! However, for most of us, we can look back at this planting season and find at least one example for where things didn’t go quite as they should have. Its human nature for us to want to forget about these blunders and move on, but sometimes valuable knowledge can gained by reviewing. And if you are like me, you should be going out and documenting these problems now, and finding corrective actions to avoid them next season. By the time fall, or next year rolls around, you may have long forgotten about the causes of these issues. So get out there and scout your fields.
It’s hard to be perfect. I have to admit, every spring has at least one of those “oops” moments. The key is to catch the problem quickly and limited the acres affected. Unfortunately with the size of today’s equipment, many acres can be covered in a short amount of time. Although Planters, drills and sprayers have great monitoring systems, there are still ways in which errors can happen. Here’s a few examples of things that have gone wrong for me over the years.
What I learned: The importance of a seed placed starter fertilizer! By the 3-leaf stage the affected row was noticeably behind. I could see the difference all the way through to harvest. This proved to me the value of using ALPINE G24.
Correction for next year: Check the flow out of starter tubes more frequently. Invest in Wilger flow indicators to monitor flow of every row.
What I learned: 4” is not the ideal planting depth for corn!!! Although I was surprised at how much actually did come up, even if it was delayed. Final stand was reduced from 34k down to 20k.
Correction for next year: Check planting depth of every row unit at the beginning of every field.
What I learned: Depending on the field, a lot of time can pass between application and when the crop actually shows nitrogen deficiency. If the crop is approaching flag leaf, it may be too late to safely stream 28 to correct the mistake. And believe me, the mistake is obvious!
Correction for next year: Clean out sprayer filters daily. Install inline filter on the transfer pump.
These were just a few specific examples, that are obvious problems to see from the road, and had basic corrective actions to avoid or limit them moving forward. But maybe the problems aren’t so obvious. Perhaps in your field walks you are dealing with low population or uneven emergence. What do you think are the causes? Insects? Disease? Tillage practice? Compaction? Seeding depth? Crusting due to rain? Lack of rain? Ask yourself, is there anything I could have done differently to get a different result? Should I be changing anything for next year? It’s better to start thinking about these questions now, rather than next winter. Again, our goal should be to learn from our past cropping season challenges to constantly improve ourselves.