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Agronomy Update

2018 Planting Reminders

Published on Monday, April 30, 2018

Many farmers in our area have finally started planting while many others are getting ready to start. I wanted to share a few reminders with you as you fine-tune your planting operations to ensure the best chance of success in 2018. 

Hybrid and Variety Placement

It’s important to make sure that you plant corn hybrids and soybean varieties in fields that they are suited for to maximize your yield potential. During the rush of planting season, it’s easy to forget to take the time to switch your hybrids as you change fields. While several of our Beck’s products are very versatile and will be successful in nearly any situation, some products have placement requirements that are more specific and will reward you at harvest if you place them correctly at planting.

You likely already have a plan in place for which hybrids and varieties you are going to plant in each field. If you need a reminder on hybrid/variety characteristics, below are some notes from Daniel Bechman, our regional product specialist, on how to place some of the most popular Beck’s products for our area.


  • 5140* - Truly can be go anywhere product as there are no real placement requirements.
  • 5829 - Place on your medium to tougher soils. It’s great in dryland situations and in fields with varying soil types. It also has very good silage potential.
  • 5113* - Versatile product that can handle the toughest soils but can also be placed on more productive soils.
  • 5460* – Similar to 5140, this hybrid is highly versatile.
  • 5828* - Extremely versatile and the only real placement recommendation would be to position it away from cold, wet soils in the early spring.
  • Click here to view the placement and management recommendations for all Beck’s corn hybrids.


  • 296L4 - A great option when positioned on productive soils, but has the architecture and stress tolerance to go anywhere.
  • 299R4* -  A broadly adapted option but tends to position towards your top 2/3 acres.
  • 273R4* – This is a pretty versatile variety but would recommend placing it on better acres. Overall it can handle most soils.
  • 366L4 - The 5140 of our soybean lineup, this product moves north well and can go on any soil.
  • 315R4 – This highly versatile option tends to position towards the tougher 2/3rd of acres. It has good yield and awesome stress tolerance.
  • Click here to view the placement and management recommendations for all Beck’s soybean varieties.

Planting Population

Selecting the right population can be very important to helping your crop establish a good stand and achieve its top yield potential. In corn, the ideal population can vary based on productivity of the soil and hybrid. Even if you don’t have a planter with variable-rate capabilities, you can still change your populations based on productivity of the field and the hybrid you are planting. Below are the planting recommendations that the Beck’s product team has developed for ideal population ranges for each hybrid in our lineup.

The ideal soybean population is less dependent on variety and more dependent on row spacing, planter type, soil productivity, planting date, and potential for stand establishment challenges. The following graph shows our Practical Farm Research (PFR)® results for soybean populations.

As you can see, 100,000 seeds/A. provided the best ROI over six years of testing across multiple locations. However, I would actually recommend planting that low on a small amount of acres. Here are some things to consider when reviewing this data.

  • Most of our PFR testing is done in high-yielding environments with little risk of stand establishment issues. In fields with risk of drought stress or saturated soils, or in fields with soils that have a high potential to crust, you’ll want to at plant higher rates.
  • All of this testing was on early-planted soybeans. After May 15, I recommend increasing your planting populations by 10,000 seeds/A. per week to account for the shorter growing season and less vegetative growth potential.
  • This study was conducted with a 15-inch row planter. If you are planting with a drill, you’ll want to increase your population to account for less consistency in spacing and depth.

The take-home message is that low populations work when planted early, when planted in 15-inch rows, and on high productive soils. Any time those factors start to change, you’ll need to increase your population.

Planting Depth

Planting depth is one of the easiest factors to overlook on the day of planting. Here are our PFR results on planting depth in corn.

It’s well known that a planting depth of 2 in.  is ideal when planting corn. However, it’s important to pay attention to the yield penalty if your depth is off by just a half-inch. It only takes a few minutes to get out of the tractor and check your planting depth in each field. As farmers, we’re always looking for ways to get a few extra bushels: using in-furrow fertilizer, applying foliar feeds, spoon-feeding nitrogen, etc.  But don’t forget that paying attention to the basics like planting depth can get us a nice yield bump as well!

Our PFR data has shown that a planting depth of 1.5 in. is ideal for soybeans. While this might be a bit deeper than most of us are used to planting, our observations in PFR have shown more consistent soil temperatures and moistures with deeper planted soybeans. We’ve also noticed that many of the nodules in soybeans form at the same depth at which they were planted. Soils are cooler throughout the summer at lower depths, and if the nodules are cooler, they tend to be more productive and provide more nitrogen to the plant.

I hope that you find this information helpful as you prepare to head to the field this year. If you have any questions about these or any other factors related to planting, feel free to contact your Beck’s dealer, seed advisor, or myself.  Have a safe and successful planting season!

Mike Hannewald
Field Agronomist and Precision Farming Field Advisor


*XL® is a registered trademark of Pioneer. XL® brand seed is distributed by Beck’s Superior Hybrids, Inc. For a full list of all technology providers and legal information, click here. Practical Farm Research (PFR)® is a registered trademark of Beck's Superior Hybrids, Inc.

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