Ellington Massey and his son, Turner, rely on four things to produce good corn yields and healthy profit margins — precise planting, fertility, irrigation and grain bins. For the Masseys, who grow corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and sesame near Rudyard, Miss., precision planting begins each fall by making sure they have a consistent planting surface for both seed and implements.

They don’t cut stalks after harvest, except on cotton, preferring to run a disk through the field following the combine. They let fields mellow at least a month, then disk again, bed up, run a Paratill through the middle of the bed, and roll the beds.

The Masseys have moved away from tilling at a 45-degree angle to the row, because it can create inconsistencies in the soil profile, which can impact planting efficiency and seeding rates the following spring.

“Seeding rate is so critical on corn,” Ellington says. “When you subsoil at a 45-degree angle, the planter will set up a cadence crossing the subsoil tracks that impacts emergence. With the Paratill (a low disturbance subsoiler), we’re plowing right under the row in the same direction as the row.”

A correct plant population is so important to the Masseys that they regularly do maintenance on and/or replace chains that drive the planting hoppers. “If the chains get dry, they buckle up, which will impact seeding rate. We chain lube them and replace them every two years,” Ellington says.

“Most of the time, we don’t back the planter up under a shed during planting season,” Turner notes. “If we’re rained out for a few days, those chains can get rusty. I have found that if you don’t oil the chains right after a rain, they will rust up and the links will be stiff.”