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Late spring questions linger

Precision Planting technology is displayed earlier in the year during the company's winter conference / CIFN photo.

TREMONT – Questions about nitrogen, down force and high-speed planting are being raised as we experience one of the later spring seasons in recent memory.

Many growers weren’t able to apply nitrogen last fall due to the weather and those who may have applied anhydrous earlier this spring may be impacted by reduced nitrogen efficiency after several inches of rain has fallen.

“Now the question is: How much of that nitrogen has begun to push deeper into the soil profile and when we go plant into wetter conditions, are we going to create compaction issues around those seeds?” asked Eric Huber, east central Illinois region manager for Precision Planting.

Huber is interested in seeing how planter-applied nitrogen performs this year. Precision Planting compared several different nitrogen programs at the company’s Pontiac research farm last year. Splitting the application into three passes showed more favorable results.

“We were as much as 27.5 bushels to the acre (higher),” Huber said.

Nitrogen applied with the planter at different rates is among the top five nitrogen programs the company observed during the past couple of years.

Huber recognizes the definition of a “fit” field is changing now that we are past the halfway point of May. Growers will have to make some tough decisions on whether or not to work in less-than-ideal conditions.

“Be careful about how wet we are working a field and going in to dry it out,” Huber cautions. “A shallow pass may be a little better to keep from creating too many clotty conditions that could actually start to dry us out down the road.”

Most farmers will be tempted to run a bit faster than they normally would this spring. If a poor seed bed is mixed with higher speeds, the row unit of a planter will experience a rougher ride. This means seed spacing performance must be closely monitored.

“We might have to add a little more pressure down to the gauge wheels to kind of crush and create a better seed bed,” added Huber.

High-speed planting technology is going to shine this season, in Huber’s opinion, since high speed planters can control the seed from the meter all the way down to the ground in conditions that aren’t perfect.

Follow Precision Planting on Twitter @precisionplant or on Facebook @precisionplanting.

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