Confirming our plant population is an important step in achieving optimal yields. By taking stand counts we can evaluate our emergence, make future adjustments for spacing, seed depth, planter settings and adapt to planting conditions. The agronomists at Norder Supply work with you to evaluate these stand counts, and make adjustments to maximize net return per acre.
Corn hybrids can respond positively and negatively to population. Fixed ear hybrids require higher populations to maximize yield, while a flex ear hybrid may respond equally at a lower population. Problems with stalk integrity and plant standability may result if a hybrid is planted higher than its recommended population. To collect a stand count, measure the distance required for 1/1000th of an acre and then count the plants within that distance.
Multiple stand counts should be made as you move across the field to provide a better estimate of the spring stand, keeping notes on hybrid changes or different in-furrow treatments. If utilizing variable rate technology on the planter, having a map and a GPS location may be helpful, but not necessary.
Details about the planting conditions, planter performance, and required planter maintenance can be gleaned from a few measurements and counts once corn emerges. The plant population is important, but so is the uniformity of emergence and a consistent spacing between plants. Problems with plant spacing are often the result of improper planter speed. Higher speeds can cause row units to bounce, and seeds do not drop evenly down the seed tube. If spacing is off, also inspect the ends of the seed tubes for cracks or burrs of plastic that may be catching the seeds.
Uneven plant emergence is often the result of variable planting depth. Inconsistent seed depth could be the result of too little or too much down pressure, a worn out seed firmer, or poor seed bed prep from working the ground ahead of planting. Notes taken during planting about down pressure settings combined with in field observations can improve future planting. A few adjustments can be made in the future, but from season to season, planting conditions are rarely the same.
A higher frequency of doubles and/or skips is often the result of planter singulation problems. Singulation is how the seeds drop off the seed disc one at a time down the seed tube. Worn out seed discs or seed meter parts, incorrect vacuum, and seed size will affect singulation. When stand is fully emerged, take percentage counts of the doubled up plants. A plant stand with less than 0.50% doubles is good and any percentage over 1.0% is a red flag for planter related problems. Skips in the stand should be dug up to determine why the plants did not emerge.