Producers need to develop strategies to make up for lost planting days due to soil conditions from a wet spring, said a University of Missouri Extension agricultural engineer.
“Planting conditions are far from perfect when the ground is wet enough that the planter and tractor leave tracks in the field,” said Bill Casady. “Seeds planted in muddy soil will emerge poorly and non-uniformly. They could also struggle to grow in a smeared and compacted seed furrow.”
Casady outlines steps producers should take to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime:
• Plan to have at least two people available to run the planter and at least one support person to supply seeding, help with maintenance and assist in any unforeseen problems. “There will be little time for last-minute calculations or adjustments,” he said.
• Hire additional labor. Having someone on the ground to assist can often offset unforeseen breakdowns or obstacles in the field.
• If you farm near wooded areas, check the field edges for any cleanup required before planting begins. Stopping to remove fallen limbs reduces field efficiency.
• Keep the planter rolling. At least two people should be available to keep the planter running from dawn to dusk or as long as conditions permit.
• Communicate effectively. Plan to take breaks as needed and have a partner meet you at the field to relieve you for meal breaks.
• Use extra labor to check planter performance. The operator should not have to take time digging for seed behind the planter to verify good performance.
• Use bulk feeders or keep a crew ready to help fill the planter.
“Tensions can run high when seasonal stress begins to hit,” he said. “Always review and consider safe practices. Shortcuts or hurrying, especially when you are tired, can cause accidents.”