There’s a lot of optimism going into the 2021 crop year, and chances are, you’ve made your seed decisions already — you’re going with your best seed, you’ve tested it, made sure it’s high quality, and that it’s got good germination and vigour.
A good start means a competitive crop which can meet the challenges during the balance of the growing season. To ensure your investment pays off, here are five tips for this seeding season:
- Seed treatment: Seed treatment protects the germinating seed against a host of pests. This can be particularly important when seeding into cool soils and where there may be a buildup of pests. Fungicides protect against many of the common root rots, seeding blights, fusarium and may others. Insecticides protect the seedling from wireworms, cutworms, pea leaf weevils and maggots, to mention a few.
- Seeding rate: Calculate seeding rates utilizing the thousand kernel weight (TKW), estimated per cent survivability and target density. This is an easy exercise to ensure you have the correct seeding rate based on seed size. This may save you money in certain circumstances. There are charts available which indicate the optimal plant density for each crop, with a range to address specific field conditions.
- Fertility: Farmers are keenly aware as they push crop yield and quality that they need to enhance their fertility program. My suggestion is to work closely with your agronomist or retailer to adjust your program to fit your goals. Follow the 4R of nutrient management — right rate, right time, right source, right place. Again, with a properly devised program, you have a higher utilization of the product applied and a greater return on investment.
- Depth and packing: Provide your fragile seed with the best environment for success. Remember to check seeding depth often to ensure you are placing seed at the optimal depth for the crop and field moisture conditions. Ensure proper packing to provide good soil-to-seed contact. Finally, watch your speed. Only go as fast as your machinery can accurately place the seed.
- Pre-seed weed control: Early weed control is critical to maximize yields. You must deal with any resistant weeds and apply the proper tank mix partner. Care should be taken to identify the actual weed spectrum and weed stage. Be cognizant of any winter annuals or perennial weeds, which can be more difficult to control. You need to decide whether residual control is required. This is especially helpful against flushing weeds. Properly maintained field records and regular scouting are crucial for successful weed management.
Hopefully, we have established a great crop. However, it is still good practise to check the crop plant stand. This is your final check evaluating the seeding operation. It allows you to adjust management decisions this season or for improvements next year.