The greening grass and emerging weeds tell us it is almost planting time in Central Illinois.
Agronomist Dan Froelich encourages the proper planting preparation before farmers head to the field. This includes not rushing into fieldwork, since working on wet ground can lead to troubles down the road.
“We need to remember if we work ground wet, we pay for it all season long,” Froelich, of Brandt Consolidated, said.
Now is the time to check over all farm equipment, making sure everything is ready to go for that first day in the field. Planters and sprayers should be closely examined to make sure they are in top-notch shape.
“Check your parallel arms,” Froelich explained. “Are the bushings wore out and can you grab that row and wobble it?”
Disk openers should also be checked and the planter gauge wheels must be properly adjusted. Calibration of GPS autosteer units is also suggested since settings tend to change from year to year. As growers move through the season, they should write down what type of seed they planted where. This is especially important with the release of Dicamba soybeans this year.
One of the most important planting preparation tips is farm safety. Farmers should take their time and pause for a break every now and then.
“Climb out of the cab, stretch, get a cup of coffee or Pepsi and take the time to relax,” Froelich added.
Froelich reminds farmers that a corn crop can often be planted in a week’s time nowadays so there is no need to rush.
“Things are going to get busy, but let’s just take our time and make sure we do things in a manner that is well thought out and done safely.”
He also cautions against planting into thick weeds. Fields should be sprayed a week before planting so the foliage has time to die so the ground can dry out underneath. Anyone with cover crops can now burn those off once field conditions allow. With increasing ground temperatures, Froelich likes to see corn planting start around April 15.
Since this time frame falls during the Easter weekend this year, Froelich hopes growers enjoy quality time with family for the holiday before putting seeds in the ground.