To Ensure Success During Planting Season –
1. Early planting is NOT essential for top yields.
Am I fan of early planting?
Are there advantages to planting early?
Is early planting the secret to getting top yields every year?
Farmers love to plant as early as they can. They’ve come to believe that the earlier they get the seed in the ground, the higher their yields will be. Most farmers also believe that they risk huge yield penalties if they plant after their “early window.”
But, in my opinion, farmers are in too much of a rush to get their seed in the ground in order to “git-r-done” rather than getting it done properly.
They become so focused on planting early, they forget they have an entire month of good planting time available—not just a few days.
After all, significant yield losses, due to late planting, seldom become reality. There are just too many other bigger variables that go uncontrolled and overshadow planting date.
In my 40-plus years in the seed business, I’ve found one planting truth to be self-evident: spring does not dictate the kind of crop that’s harvested—summer and fall do.
Over the years, we’ve planted corn ultra-early and harvested immature, cream-style grain.
We’ve also planted our crop ultra-late (long after the planting window had supposedly passed) and successfully harvested mature, dry, heavy grain in the fall.
Spring planting conditions trump spring planting date every single time.
2. Planters wear out in the shed, not in the field.
The most important machine a farmer owns is the planter.
Yet, planters seldom receive the amount of attention they need, proportional to their level of importance because, in most cases, they don’t cover that many acres in a single season.
In the old days it was easy to check for wear-and-tear on a planter because there were so few moving parts. Everything was mechanical, so a worn out planter plate or floor plate was easy to spot.
But today, with all of the rubber gaskets, seals, tubes, and disks, the number of acres covered has a lot less to do with planter wear.
It is the weather and lack of use that causes parts to wear out.
A complete overhaul of a planter is always in order, regardless of the acres it covers.
3. Protect the farmer throughout the entire planting window.
As I mentioned before, the planting window is approximately forty-five days long in most parts of the country—not a week.
In other words, there is a lot more time than farmers think to get a crop planted (and even replanted, if necessary). However, newly-planted seed must be closely monitored from the time it is placed in the ground to the end of that full forty-five day window.
It is during that time that replanting, or other adjustments to the crop, can still take place, if needed. Even if replanting is not an issue, this is the time when the baby plants need the most attention.
This is the time when seed sellers need to be going back to every customer who planted their seed, making sure everything is as intended. Most farmers don’t take the time to get back into all their fields, during this planting window of opportunity, to make sure everything is okay.
That’s why they need their seed sellers to do it for them.
And if there is a problem with one of your varieties, you certainly want to know about it before you get a disgruntled “Trouble Call.”
4. Give customers a set of rules to follow for your products.
When farmers take delivery on the seed, all of the different brands and varieties are stored in one location—their seed warehouse.
And therein lies the problem.
Once seed enters their warehouses, all varietal recognition disappears and it all becomes just seed.
That means, unless you give the grower specific rules to follow when planting your seed, they are going to do whatever they want with it, including planting it whenever and wherever they feel like it.
Most farmers plant their seed varieties according to maturity, and according to which fields are ready for planting first. Unless they are given special instructions, they will not be planted according to whether or not the particular variety matches the soil type it will be planted in.
And even if suggestions are made on product placement, those suggestions are often forgotten.
The easiest way to get customers to treat your seed differently from everyone else’ s, even when it is in the shed, is to mark it differently.
Put signs on your seed, directing the grower as to what you want him to do with it, complete with planting instructions. Give each customer their own personal copy of the planting instructions, reiterate them at delivery, and then again at planting time.
It is especially important for new customers to know that seed corn is not just seed corn. Each variety is unique and must be treated that way, starting at planting time.
5. Stop worrying about the position of your seed in the customer’s warehouse; just deliver it early!
Too late for this advice?
Okay, remember it for next year. But believe it or not, I still have seed sales people who want to deliver their seed to a customer’s warehouse last, so it will placed in front of a competitor’s product and, thus, will be planted first.
That philosophy makes me laugh.
Do you really believe that farmers with a favorite hybrid stacked behind a new, unfamiliar brand of seed won’t move that new brand in order to get at the favorite?
Of course they will.
But that is not the issue. The real issue is to deliver your seed as early as possible so you have plenty of time to spend with that customer going over each variety with him, reviewing where each is to be planted and at what population.
The earlier you deliver, the better chance you have of getting your products planted, because you will have more time to get them thinking about planting your products.
The more they know about the products they will be planting, the more confident they are in planting them first.
Always get that seed delivered early and then work with your customer on the planting protocols of your varieties.