Now that spring is here, many growers are looking ahead to the first signs of emergence. Once seedlings emerge and produce 3-4 leaves, you will want to start conducting early season stand counts to identify potential concerns with population and spacing.
Early season stand counts are a great way to take note of your crop’s condition and determine if additional management practices will be necessary.
When going through your stand counts, here are a few agronomic watchouts:
- Early season pest pressure: Pests such as cutworms and wireworms can begin feeding on seedlings early on, destroying yield potential – and ultimately profit potential – down the road. Monitor for any insect activity in your field to better prepare for what lies ahead. Keeping record of what insects are present may also help you determine what management will be required later.
- Soil nutrition needs: Another thing to watch for when conducting stand counts are symptoms of common nutrition challenges like phosphorus, sulfur, and/or zinc deficiencies. Soils that are sandy or have high pH will need closer inspection. Early season nutrient deficiencies may also be a symptom of rooting restrictions in crops – which can result from cool weather conditions or sidewall compaction, rather than soil fertility.
- Planter issues: Stand counts can also help with identifying planter issues. For instance, skips and gaps within rows may be a sign that the planter was on an incorrect setting. Even if replanting isn’t an option, this information is great to keep in mind when conducting maintenance on your planter the following season. Note that the impact on yield will vary depending on the severity of the issue. Skips are more likely to have a negative impact on yield than doubles.
Contact your local NK® retailer to learn more about stand counts and scouting.
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