The key to producing more bushels is not about earlier planting and harvesting.
It’s actually about having and maintaining the best soil conditions throughout the growing season.
As a farmer, you already know that it doesn’t matter how good your genetics are or how great your seed quality is if you plant the seed in lousy conditions.
But the problem is that farmers have been told for years that the earlier they plant the crop, the higher the yield will be.
Heck, this is one of the biggest benefits that companies who install farm tile like to spout to land owners.
Are there advantages of planting early each year?
Is early planting the secret to getting top yields every year?
No! Absolutely not.
As a farmer, you love to plant as early as you can.
The reason is because you have come to believe that the earlier you get the seed in the ground, the higher yields will be. Most growers also believe they risk huge yield penalties if they plant after the early window.
Now, it’s important to note every year you will hear University and County extension agents rant and rave on the radio and in newspaper articles about the bushel increase you can get by planting early.
Plenty of tests and trials over the years have proven that this is correct.
When everything else is right, you can get a bump of 2–5% increase in yield.
Today a farmer’s goal is to achieve a 20–30% increase in yield in a single year, and achieving that kind of goal has less to do with planting date and more to do with soil conditions at planting.
When soil conditions are right, planting date becomes largely irrelevant.
Keep that important fact in the mind when your neighbors brag how they were the first ones in the field and the first ones done planting.
So how do improve soil conditions?
The first step
The first step is installing (or updating) a subsurface drainage system to improve the productivity of your biggest asset, your farmland.
The purpose of subsurface drainage is to lower the water table in the soil.
The water table is the level at which the soil is entirely saturated with water. Excess water must be removed to a level below the ground surface where it will not impede the growth and development of your crops.
Remember, both water and air need to be present in the spaces between the soil particles for ideal conditions—but if water fills and saturates the soil there is no room for air.
A properly designed tile system allows the water table between tile lines to be lowered within 24 hours after rainfall to a level that will not cause injury to the crop.
Better soil conditions lead to higher yields and this translates into more profit for your farming operation.
With a well-designed drainage system, your fields will dry out quicker, giving you the best possible soil conditions not only at planting time…
…but throughout the entire growing season.
A well-designed pattern tiling system ensures that excess moisture is removed year-round and your precious fertile soil stays intact.
Proper drainage also cuts down on plant stress, prevents diseases, and creates better plant stands going into harvest season.
Now that is the key to producing more bushels!
–S.J. Jacobs & Sons