There are many details we can observe and document while the crop is developing, which give us clues that validate our choices. These early-season differentials allow us to examine our crops throughout the growing season and reveal how using the Maximum Farming System makes crops stand out among the rest.
Below is an example of how we observe early-season differentials in corn:
Before emergence, a random dig into the row tells us if we made good seed to soil contact, avoided air pockets and selected viable seed, all of which are essential in growing a productive crop.
After emergence, usually at V-3, it is easy to take a stand count which tells you the percent of planted seeds that are likely to contribute to yield. While taking the stand count, you can evaluate the stand spacing which is a big factor in consistent ear size. Evenly spaced plants tend to yield much higher than erratically spaced plants. At this stage, the corn plant is initializing the ear, which establishes the maximum number of kernels that can be harvested. Several critical observations at this stage include leaf and stem color, nodal root development, and length of radical roots. The deep green color of active photosynthesis and the absence of purpling on the stem indicate good nutrient status.
When the plants are waist to shoulder high, it is easy to find the ear leaf and evaluate the nutrient status. If that leaf has begun to emerge and been exposed to sunlight, it will begin to darken. If there are any nutrient deficiencies, the plant will express these on other less-demanded leaves as the plant develops. The ear leaf is a bellwether because it bears the extra load of providing for the ear development, and can therefore tell a lot about what nutrients the crops has or needs.
At Ag Spectrum, our associates pride themselves in being trained and active in your field to aid in your observations. Paying attention to details throughout the growing season allows our associates to both correct the development of the crop and improve planning for future years.