Football may be a game of inches, but farming is a business of fractional inches. Take planting. Seed placement is paramount to the success of a crop. Farmers spend lots of time calculating the optimum rate and depth to plant their seeds based on genetics, soil type, soil conditions, weather, management practices and the desired output of their crop.

Prior to planting, farmers spend days checking, servicing, setting and calibrating their planters, in order to place seeds exactly where they want them in the soil. And even with the best-laid plans, adjustments are often necessary due to Mother Nature. Ideally, you want to plant into moist, but not wet, soil. Planting in wet soils can lead to yield-robbing soil compaction and hinders crop emergence. Most corn is planted 1.5-2.5” deep. Depths vary based on soil and weather conditions. I plant my high-yield corn plot at a rate of 48,000 seeds per acre. I do this to maximize kernel output per acre and manage it accordingly. My rows are 38” apart, meaning the seeds are spaced 3.4” apart. Growers who produce fresh market sweet corn for sale as corn on the cob desire large, showy ears to meet consumer demand, so they plant at about 20,000 seeds per acre. Their seeds are spaced over 6” apart. The spacing of seeds down a row is called singulation. If your singulation is off just 1-2%, that can cost you 2-3 bushels per acre. So if a 2,000-acre corn grower’s singulation is off 1-2%, they can lose over $36,000. Maintaining proper seed depth and spacing is a key to uniform emergence – getting the plants to pop out of the ground at the same time. Studies show corn plants that emerge 24 hours later yield 22 bushels per acre less than those that emerge first. My good friend Steven Albrecht famously stated, “I consider any corn plant that emerges 12 hours later to be a weed.” That obsession with uniform crop emergence is what helped make the legendary Texas farmer an 11-time National Corn Yield Winner. In addition to maintaining proper planter performance and operation, and planting in optimum soil conditions, starter fertilizers and growth managers such as Huma Gro® Vitol® and Huma Gro® Breakout® can help ensure uniform emergence.

What’s the biggest challenge farmers see this year? According to a member survey conducted by my friends at the Tennessee Corn Growers Association, that would be controlling crop input costs. And for a good reason. Nitrogen and fuel prices are still over 80% higher than they were in 2020, and ag chemical costs keep spiking, now over 50% above where they were in 2020. Elevated crop input prices are helping fuel the regenerative ag and soil health movements. Many farmers are fed up with the status quo and searching for solutions to reduce their dependence on expensive synthetic molecules and cut fuel costs. That’s paving the way for ROI-generating biologicals like humates and fertilizer-efficiency products such as Huma Gro® X-Tend®. Profitability (a function of controlling input costs), inflation, labor availability and environmental regulation impact round out growers’ chief concerns.

Saturday is Earth Day. Launched in 1970, Earth Day ushered in the environmental stewardship movement. I was in grammar school during the early years and recall bringing home tree saplings packaged in, of all things, Styrofoam cups! Yet it’s hard to overstate the impact of Earth Day. To understand it, you need to understand the time of its origin. Pollution was rampant in 1970. Smog was overtaking our cities, while rivers and streams flowed with toxic waste. But it wasn’t just the evil corporations at fault. Littering was commonplace and recycling wasn’t even a thought. There was a prevailing mindset that necessitated change. Activism was ignited through the vision of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970, as the inaugural Earth Day prompted demonstrations by over 20 million concerned citizens across the fruited plain. Many credit Earth Day with giving rise to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Earth Day has grown to over 1 billion activists taking action across 192 countries. At Bio Huma Netics, every day is Earth Day. Our natural products are all earth-friendly.

About the Author

Fred Nichols

Fred Nichols, Chief Marketing Officer at Huma, is a life-long farmer and ag enthusiast. He operated his family farm in Illinois, runs a research farm in Tennessee, serves on the Board of Directors at Agricenter International and has spent 35 years in global agricultural business.

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