Establish Strong Stands for a Strong Finish

When you look down the uniform, picket-fence rows of your newly emerged crop, you know without a doubt that you made the right seed choice, your planter was perfectly calibrated and Mother Nature didn’t throw you any curve balls. You sense that harvest numbers will top the chart.

Net Effective Plant Stand flagging study

There’s a direct correlation between uniform stands and yield. “Nonuniform stands put you behind the eight ball from the start,” said Scott Hart, AgVenture director of products and technical marketing. Hart and his team bring forward seed for AgVenture Regional Seed Companies (RSCs). “If you start with lower seed quality what you end up with is non-uniform emergence or scattered emergence,” Hart said.

How do you get picture-perfect stands? Start with the highest quality seed and follow strict planting protocols. Seed quality is intertwined with genetic selection, stress emergence ratings and seed treatments.

AgVenture has access to the world’s highest quality genetics and germplasm (the material that contains genetic information) from sources such as Dow DuPont, Syngenta and GreenLeaf Genetics. By utilizing these high-end genetic development suppliers, AgVenture acquires the latest top-performing hybrids based on local conditions. It’s this ability to pull from multiple channels that gives AgVenture seed its premier status.

Treated Seed Corn

Bill Hoben, AgVenture production manager, chooses the genetics for AgVenture seed from a variety of providers. He said, “At the start of each year, our Regional Seed Companies (RSCs) present their cropping plans. I use those as my guide as I select seed. Because we provide seed for many local environments, our product portfolio is much broader than many seed companies, including some of the majors. Our seed works across more diverse environments.”

Genetics are just one part of the quality seed story. The other is seed treatments. Seed treatments are essential to protect performance by guarding seed against disease, weed and pest damage. Hart said that AgVenture’s Security® Seed Protection System is second to none when it comes to protecting the grower’s seed invest. “Our elite seed treatment packages promote uniform stand development and plant health, which are essential to achieve top yields,” Hart said.

AgVenture seed depth tool

While genetics and seed treatments play a critical role in seed quality, testing is also key. AgVenture seed is subjected to an exceptionally rigorous evaluation process, a process that goes above and beyond federally required warm germination or industry standard testing. Hoben said, “We conduct intensive testing to understand how seed is going to react in different environments. By running a series of tests on each lot, AgVenture brings hybrids to market that exhibit true viability and vigor.”

AgVenture’s testing protocol is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. First, the seed undergoes proprietary test protocols performed by the genetics and germplasm providers. Then AgVenture takes it one step further by subjecting it to a series of tests at Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), an independent testing lab. Tests such as cold, cold saturated and sand germination allow the company to determine emergence ratings under stressful conditions. But that’s not the end of it. Some RSCs send AgVenture seed to their own testing facilities, which serve as “referee labs.” The end result is that AgVenture RSCs — and growers — get the highest performing seed for local environments.

Planting practices also contribute to uniform stands, the precursor to top-yielding crops. If an early stand shows uneven plant heights or multiple gaps, a grower has to question whether improper bed preparation or equipment adjustments played a part. Paying attention to variables such as seed planting depth (two inches), planter speed (five to six mph) and soil temperature (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) can make a big difference in healthy plant development and healthy profit at harvest.

Planter closeup

Correct planting protocols can be verified with a net effective plant stands (NEPS) flagging study as the crop emerges. AgVenture Yield Specialists conduct NEPS with growers to evaluate planting outcomes. “NEPS helps growers see where the slow emerging plants are,” Hart said. “It’s important that the shoots emerge together, that way plants don’t compete with each other for nutrients, water and sun.” By flagging abnormal plants, NEPS tells farmers what percent of the plants in a field will have full ears, which is key to greater yields.

While you can’t predict what harvest will bring, you can get a good idea by looking at your newly emerged crop. If you see healthy, uniform plants, you know your investment in high quality seed and exercising best planting practices paid off.