Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

  • Doug Score Image

    2014: The Spring for Planter Upgrades

    May 15, 2014

    Posted by Doug Score in Technology

    This past winter, more technology was added to planters than I've seen in my many years in the industry. It seemed like every shop I entered, the planter had been disassembled. 

    The cost of upgrading your planter can be overwhelming. In some cases, the updates actually cost more than the planter itself. But updating older planters with modern technologies can make sense, since we are likely to see major improvements to the most basic planter function – opening and closing of the seed trench – in the near future.

    The newest planters claim to provide good performance at speeds of up to 10 mph. Unfortunately, due to the abundance of rocks in our region, I don't see many opportunities for planters traveling that fast. So if trading planters isn't in your plans in the coming years, you may want to consider some of these high-tech updates to your tried-and-true planter:

    Electric Drives — Allows row by row control of planting population. This also eliminates most the mechanical elements that have historically been used to drive planter units, including chains, clutches, cables and tire inflations. This eliminates wear components and can minimize downtime. Electric drive, in combination with variable rate planting, can allow the operator to change the population to the row. For instance, you can vary the population to the line of your management zones, rather than planting the population to the location of the tractor. These electric drive motors are easy to access and simple to change. I foresee electric drives becoming standard on most planters in the coming years. Of course, there is no free lunch: with the added electric power needs, some may need to upgrade generator/alternator sizes on their tractor, or even add an auxiliary generator.

    Downforce controls — This technology allows a grower to select what downforce he'd prefer to use based on soils and management practices, in an attempt to minimize sidewall compaction and perfect seeding depth. By using this technology properly, we expect to have a more consistent stand with a more even emergence. This is probably best suited for the no-till farmer, but also has its benefits to growers using various tillage systems. The place I see the most benefit is to the grower who plants into cover crops. Under certain situations, we have struggled to get good seed-to-soil contact, and this may be the answer to that issue.

    Of course, these upgrades do not replace good sound planting practices and regular maintenance, but they can help us get closer to maximizing yields. Growers will do their best at putting in the crop, in hopes that Mother Nature will finish it with a plentiful harvest. 

    Wishing everyone a safe spring. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your RSA.

  • The Difference is Stine
    Bill Kessinger Image

    The Difference is Stine

    February 14, 2014

    Posted by Bill Kessinger in Products

    Born and raised on the family farm, I can personally attest to the trial and error it takes to get right plan implemented. And as the industry changes, it can be tough to keep up with the latest product promises.

    That’s why I love working for Stine. It’s fulfilling to help growers step out of their comfort zones and learn new ways to increase yields, based on tested and proven research. With us, growers have options that other companies simply don’t have. That’s because we grow corn and beans differently, resulting in industry-leading advancements in HP corn, herbicide programs and trait packages that fit every acre.

    As the 2014 season gets underway, don’t wait to learn about the latest offers from Stine. Give me a call or a regional sales agronomist in your area to learn more and make it your best year yet.

  • John Furlong Image

    Three Ways to Check for Stalk Rot

    September 24, 2013

    Posted by John Furlong in Crop Management

    Many fields in eastern Iowa and northern Missouri are experiencing premature drying of corn, which sets the stage for stalk rot. To know if your fields suffer from the disease, check by picking several plants from different parts of each field to analyze. You probably have stalk rot if you get these results with the following methods:

    1. Push the top of the plant 30 degrees from its upright position and it doesn't snap back.

    2. Squeeze the plant near the base and it crushes.

    3. Cut off a couple of suspected stalks, and the pith looks discolored and empty inside.

    Scout and identify the fields at the greatest risk and then harvest those fields first. Though early moisture caused late planting in many areas, the rest of the season's hot, dry weather has made corn drier than producers may realize, making plants ready for a closer-to-normal harvest time. For questions about stalk rot and scouting, feel free to contact meor a regional sales agronomist in your area.