Published on Monday, November 7, 2016
Take a minute to think about your favorite college football team and their season so far. Would you consider them to be off to a good start? In college football, it is critical to begin the season strong and continue to perform all season long. Each and every game matters with the National Championship as your end goal. What we see every Saturday is just a small portion of all the work that goes into every game; the training, the countless hours spent watching film and running plays, all done in hopes of being prepared for the weekend ahead.
Keep this in mind as you begin think about your farm and all the hard work you put in. Think about all the planning and field preparations that are required in order to produce your crop. Would you be equally successful if you went to the field with no plan and expected to have a high yielding harvest in the fall? I’ll go ahead and assume your answer is no. Although there are some things we cannot predict, such as adverse weather, there are countless steps we take to ensure we are successful each year. From cleaning up and servicing our machinery, taking soil samples and creating fertility plans, to selecting which chemicals we will use to combat grass and broadleaf weeds, there are so many ways we can prepare for the coming season. Another major preparation we can make is taking the time to determine our seed selection.
Come November, when you have just wrapped up harvest, it can be daunting to think about what you will plant next spring. But I guarantee within the next couple months you will spend some time looking over yield data, whether it be off your combine and weight tickets, university trials, third-party trials or even Beck’s plots, and you begin to choose which hybrids and varieties you want to grow on your farm. It can be overwhelming to make your seed selection considering the vastness of products available. So, how do we begin to choose?
The first thing to ask yourself when evaluating products is “what do I absolutely need?” One farmer might need a variety that works across a wide array of acres, while his neighbor needs one that is more field specific. Some farmers might need a hybrid with wet feet tolerance for the river bottom ground, while others might need a certain trait for earworm control, and still others may need high gray leaf spot tolerance. Needs are different for every farmer, but if we can identify our “absolute needs”, we can begin to separate products that will work on our farms from those that will not.
Another consideration worth thinking about when making a seed selection is “what is my yield limiting factor?” Everyone has one and we probably even have a combination of a few different factors that keep us from reaching the highest yields. If we are able to identify that one thing that holds us back, then we are able to move forwards towards our goal. For example, if I have a farmer tell me that “ponding is an issue on some of my farms because my ground backs up to a creek”, then I know that those fields are limited due to drainage ability when the creek rises. Therefore, I will need a product with excellent tolerance to wet feet to overcome that specific factor.
Another example would be a farmer who says “I like to plant my crop as early as possible but it is often still cool when I begin planting which leaves my stand is less than ideal”. In this situation, we can identify emergence as a yield limiting factor and can choose a product with rapid and consistent emergence to achieve the desired population. For every yield limiting factor there are product characteristics that can be used to overcome that hurdle.
Once we have determined the needs and yield limiting factors, the vast amount of products available should be narrowed down with only a handful left that fit your specific operation. From there, I would recommend you work with your local Beck’s dealer, seed advisor, or product specialist to finalize your seed selection and placement on your farm. Just like getting off to a good start is necessary to making the playoffs in NCAA football, seed selection and placement is critical in getting off to a good start, and finishing strong, in farming.
Author: Susan Powell
Categories: Beck's Research
Tags: Beck's, Beck's research, Seed Selection, Product Placement, product evaluation, yield limiting factors, planting 2017, Susan Powell