Ever year around this time we post an article about getting your planter ready for the planting season. We go over planter frame, row units, seed depth, the whole gamut. After posting several of those each year, we figured you’ve had enough of those lists. (And if you haven’t, read this post from last year: “In-Field Planter Adjustments--It's not too late!”) As we approach spring, we thought we’d present you with a slightly unconventional checklist for planting season. We hope these tips will help you have a smooth planting season, and reduce some stress by getting things ready to go now!
1. Prep your Rx maps! Look over any variable rate seeding maps you have planned for the year. Are all the fields listed? Do all the population ranges look correct? Save it all to a flash drive and go stick it in the tractor, or better yet, load them on to your monitor. One less thing that you have to do next month.
2. Make a planting plan. Now, I know things will change between now and then, but drafting out a good planting plan will help get you going in the right direction. What crop are you planting first? Are you doing some early season beans, switching to corn, then back to beans? Do you have two planters? Are both going to the same crop? Or one for soybeans and one for corn? Do you have an idea of what fields you might want to plant first? Make some lists of projected field order as well as planter plans. Put them in a place that everyone in your operation can see. This will help get everyone on the same page and serve as a good reminder of the tentative plans for the year.
3. Make a parts run. What are the parts that have the greatest chance of wearing out or causing a breakdown? Make a parts run, or get online, and order some extra parts to have on hand. Maybe an extra seed plate or two, or an extra vacuum hose, maybe an extra brush meter or two. Any extra chains or belts needed? How about any filters that might need replaced? Stock up and put all your planting supplies in one place in the shop. Label where you stack them, so when you send your spouse or kid or hired hand to grab you a spare, they can find it easily.
4. Stock your equipment. Take a few minutes to clean out the remnants of harvest or anhydrous application from the cabs. Then stock with some supplies you know you’ll need for the planting season. Do you have a water jug in the cab? What about hand wipes, Kleenexes, or a roll of toilet paper? Throw in a baggie filled with some chewing gum and snacks. Put a tape measure and seed digger in the cab so they are easy to find when you are checking seed depth and spacing. Put a phone charging cable in each truck and tractor. If you don’t have enough cables, order some extra’s now. Do you have a pair of gloves in each tractor and truck? Or have they all migrated to the shop over time? Redistribute them to all the equipment!
5. Get your phone ready for planting season too. Set your home browser screen to a website showing daily soil temps. We recommend https://mesonet.k-state.edu/agriculture/soiltemp/. Move your weather app to your home screen so you can easily pull up the forecast so you can make informed decisions. Do you listen to radio or podcasts in the tractor? Get some of your favorites downloaded. May we recommend The Corn Revolution Podcast? https://go.pioneer.com/cornrevolution-podcast
We’ve also heard good things about What the Farm Podcast with Rob Sharkey and Lesley Kelley. https://sharkfarmer.com/whatthefarm
Looking for some non-farming podcasts? Check out RadioLab for a solid podcast covering a wide range of topics and great reporting. https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab, MeatEater for a good podcast on outdoor topics like hunting, fishing, and conservation with host Steven Rinella. https://www.themeateater.com/listen/meateaterOr maybe check out In Defense of Plants for an inside look at some of the fascinating things you never knew about plants! http://www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast
While we know we are still 5+ weeks out from planting, now is a great time to do some planning, get some extra preparations done so we can have the smoothest, least stressful planting season yet!
What are some of your planting preparations each year? Anything you do to help get ready? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
We only get one shot at this a year! Let’s do it right!