The folks attending the Ag PhD Field Day Thursday in Baltic, South Dakota had the opportunity to once again pick the brain of a world record holder in both soybean and corn yield. Growers from the Midwest packed the tent to hear Randy Dowdy, a first-generation farmer from Valdosta, Georgia share some of his secrets to high yields. And one secret Dowdy is not afraid to share is his strong dedication to corn emergence.
He prefers to see his corn crop emerge within 10 days or less. After all, it’s those fields that come up the most uniform, where he pushes to spend more money.
“For me, it’s not about planting, it’s about getting them all up at the same time,” Dowdy said.
Dowdy said there are eight reasons for uneven corn emergence that growers should consider before planting:
- Are the seeds being planted at the same depth? Dowdy says it’s not a race to finish planting. If you can plant at 5 mph and get them all at two inches, good. If not, slow down.
- Is there good seed to soil content? Are you managing residue?
- Is the ground warm enough for planting? He doesn’t plant a seed of corn into the dirt until the soil temperature is 56 degrees Fahrenheit. And since the plant lives off seed energy until B3, Dowdy said there really isn’t a reason to plant sooner.
- Are you getting enough downward pressure? Dowdy’s planter has down-pressure pneumatic bags so he can increase the down-pressure whenever he gets into hard soil.
- Is your seedbed getting consistent moisture? Dowdy routinely uses his center pivots at night to ensure the ground has enough moisture. If too much rain causes crusting, he will turn them on to break it up.
- Could it be seed orientation? Are your seeds sprouting sideways first or directly up?
- Has there been co-mingling of seeds? Dowdy said if all the seeds in the bag are not the same size and shape, he sends it back. He suggests getting a screener and checking to see how many different types of seeds are in the bag.
- Do you know your seeds’ cold germination score? Some seeds can thrive in cold, wet soil and some cannot.
“All that needs to happen,” Dowdy said. “There are free bushels out there.”