Woman in lettuce field


It’s that time of year – the soil conditions may not be optimal, but the crops need to be planted even though some early season costs are higher than expected. Below are some suggestions for tackling early season issues so your row crops sprout healthy and your yields are plentiful.


Improve Corn Emergence

Problem:  Poor seed-to-soil contact and uneven planting depths from worn disk openers on your planter can significantly reduce corn yields before the crop even emerges. It's not a great way to start the growing season!  

Solution:  Wet conditions delay planting progress in many areas, so make sure you double-check your disk openers to see if any need replacing. It's easy to overlook or miss something, especially in rows near tire tracks. Depending on the manufacturer, you should have at least ~ 1.5 inches of disk contact. 

Outcome:  Corn emergence will be much more uniform, allowing you to maintain maximum yield potential as you progress into the growing season. 


Hedge Your Fertilizer Bets to Improve Margins?

Problem:  Row crop margins are going to be tighter this year due to lower commodity prices and stubbornly high fertilizer costs, so it's worth taking another look at your fertility program.

Solution:  Consider decreasing nitrogen application rates in corn or applying the highest rates of nitrogen on the most productive parts of your fields. Similarly in corn and soybeans, consider applying higher rates of phosphorus and potassium on your most productive soils and lower rates on less productive soils. 

Outcome:  You spend less money on inputs while maintaining target yield potential. Recent university research shows this technique will work across many areas, but there can be some localized variability due to unique soil conditions and/or farming practices. So, make sure to consult with your agronomist. 


Avoid Sidewall Compaction and Soil Smearing

Problem:  Wet fields have delayed planting progress in many areas. Growers are tempted to plant fields before soil conditions are fit. This can lead to soil compaction and smearing in the seed trench, which causes uneven emergence and poor root development. This reduces yield potential early in the growing season.

Solution: Avoid tilling or planting fields that are too wet. If you can make a little ball by rubbing the soil together in your hands, it's too wet. Stay out of the field until it's drier! If conditions are borderline, make sure to ease up on the down pressure while seeding.

Outcome: Following these tips will give you more uniform stands and healthy root structure, maintaining your yield potential as you progress into the growing season. 


For additional management of row crops, Ceres Imaging is the industry leader in high-resolution multispectral imagery built specifically for agriculture. Ceres customers benefit from our rigorous attention to detail at every step—from data capture to imagery delivery, providing customized solutions that take a more targeted approach to managing water, fertilizers and nutrients. Learn more!



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The difference between Ceres Imaging and other technologies I've used is the help I get from their expert team.
Jake Samuel, Partner
Samuel Farms
With Ceres Imaging we can take a more targeted approach to applying fertilizer and nutrients.
Brian Fiscalini, Owner
Fiscalini Cheese Company
These flights can cover way more ground and provide more insight than a dozen soil moisture probes — and it's cheaper to implement.
Patrick Pinkard, Assistant Manager
Terranova Ranch
The average Ceres Imaging conductance measurement from its imagery over the season has provided the best correlation with applied water.
Blake Sanden
University of California Cooperative Extension