While walking through research plots this fall, I’ve observed numerous issues that can be traced back to the planting season. Inconsistent plant spacing is a challenge even with the most modern planting equipment.
I’ve seen gaps where a seed may not have emerged. In some plots, there were consistent irregularities in the spacing, probably due to a piece of equipment not being calibrated. It’s important to keep mulch and debris from building up on the seed disc, as it affects planting depth.
There has been a lot of research that shows how seed spacing affects yield. Also know that seed spacing greatly affects quality. Little details can make a big difference. I’ve found some of my spacing issues were possibly related to seed being dragged by the seed firmer, which needed a minor tension adjustment. Whatever it may be, stay diligent in striving for consistent seed spacing.
Consistent harvest moisture in corn silage begin at the corn planter. For the past three years, I’ve taken notes on how seed spacing affects corn silage quality. Plant spacing affects the plant’s lignin levels and fiber digestibility. As the plants get closer together, the lower portion of the plant tends to increase in lignin to support a resulting taller plant. When this happens, the fiber digestibility tends to be reduced, which can negatively impact milk production.
Research also has shown that spacing irregularities can impact ear size, resulting in reduced potential yield. Plant spacing also causes variability in ear development, which affects starch levels and whole-plant moisture.
While you’re harvesting this fall, make some often overlooked observations on your own farm. You might discover some areas where adjustments may be made next spring to increase the precision and, ultimately, yield and quality.