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. 

  • Dust off your planter prep checklist

    Dust off your planter prep checklist

    March 02, 2023

    Posted by Stine Seed in Planting

    It’s officially March — time to dust off your annual planting checklist. Checking equipment is imperative to ensure a smooth start to the season. So much depends on a planter’s performance — accuracy and efficiency in seeding, which results in proper plant emergence and stand count, to name a few. And with ongoing supply chain issues, if you need a part replacement for your equipment, starting early gives you more time to get the parts you need.

    “The planter is such an important aspect of farming,” says David Thompson, Stine national marketing and sales director. “If you don’t get seed placed properly, you don’t obtain good seed-to-soil contact. Likemany things in farming, you only get one chance to plant it right. You might get to plant it again, but you don’t get the chance to plant it again the first time. Everything they do from now until planting is critical.”

    9 tips for proper planter maintenance

    With the first day of spring nearing (March 20), stay attuned to these planter prep tips to prevent untimely issues this season.           

    1. Brush up on your equipment knowledge. First things first — read the equipment manual. No planter is the same, especially with the advancements in precision technology. These manuals outline every component of your planter, so you’ll know what to check and how it should properly operate.

    2. Run regular checks of software. Newer equipment is ladened with precision technology. This equipment must be calibrated to ensure all systems are a go. From seed depth to row spacing, proper seeding rates and seed-to-soil contact depend on working software.

    3. Proper seed-to-soil contactis a must. Growers need to check gauge wheels and disc blades to ensure proper soil penetration and seed placement. Wheels and cut blades must be clean and disc blades free of cracks and chips. Inspecting the seed tubes, meter and planter units to ensure they’re in good shape is necessary for this step, as well as checking for skips in the field or inaccurate seeding depth or singulation. In a recent episode of the Stine Seedcast, we interviewed Bryan Porter of Porter’s Ag Solutions — a company that customizes and upgrades planters. Porter notes, “Technology has allowed (growers) to sit in the cab seat, but you still need to get out and dig.”

    4. Check tires and lights. Ss you would your truck or tractor, check your tires for wear and tear or leaks. Make sure they have the recommended pressure, especially the gauge wheels on the planter, which helps the row units make proper contact with the ground. Turn on your lights and check that they are in working order to provide proper lighting for those early mornings and late nights in the field. Check your regular headlights, hazards and taillights.

    5. Make sure your planter is level. “We’ve seen in the last couple of years a lot of planters not running level,” says Porter. “Check your parallel arms to make sure they are running level through the field … Technology has gotten us to where we are, but yet we forget the simple things to have a good planting season.”

    6. Lubricate bearings and chains and check for kinks. Kinks or added friction can cause issues with a planter’s functionality. Make sure all bearings and chains are tightened properly as well.

    7. Don’t forget your meter housing. “Check all of your seals and gaskets inside your meter housing,” says Porter. “If they are weathered, get them replaced … That’s one thing you really need to check is inside the meter housing to make sure all those components are good. Also, make sure the singulators are OK and not worn out … look at knockout wheels, things like that.”

    8. Check hydraulics and cylinders. Hydraulic hoses and cylinders are exposed to various weather elements throughout the year, so it’s important to check for signs of general wear and tear. Make replacements and repairs where needed. For cylinders, practice folding and unfolding your planting equipment to validate they are in working order. This is critical when you have to fold your equipment near power lines or for other vehicles when traveling to and from fields.

    9. Keep safety top of mind.Keep yourself and others around you safe throughout the planting season. Get sleep and do what you can to stay alert while operating the equipment. Know the rules of moving equipment on public roads and around power lines. Safety is of the utmost importance during every season in agriculture.

    “A little preventive maintenance goes a long way,” says Thompson. “New equipment is hard to come by. If you’re going to keep that equipment longer, you need to keep it active and keep it tuned, and it’s really important when the hours count — a high priority at planting time.”

    For more tips on equipment prep, contact your local Stine sales rep or regional sales agronomist. Here’s to a safe and successful planting season!

  • Agronomy 2023 outlook, part 2: Stine® Success Demos and Side-by-Side Plots

    Agronomy 2023 outlook, part 2: Stine® Success Demos and Side-by-Side Plots

    February 23, 2023

    Posted by Stine Seed in Research

    Last week, we explored how Stine’s agronomy department is looking toward the future by focusing research efforts on germplasm from our Elite Yield Trials that has not yet been commercialized. This week, director of agronomy Tom Larson provides insight on how the agronomy team will leverage Stine’s Success Demos and Side-by-Side Plots to showcase what’s currently available in Stine’s product lineup.

    “We already know a lot about the products in our current lineup, but it’s always best practice to learn more,” says Larson. “Our Stine Success Demos and Side-by-Side Plots will be set up with two specific goals in mind — 1.) to train our sales team on how these products perform in any given year, and 2.) to provide our grower customers with showcase plots where they can see firsthand how the products stand up to their environment and against competitors. I also like to call these our show-and-tell plots.”


    The goal with the Stine Success Demos is to have two plots per region — one corn and one soybean. All soybeans in the soybean plots will be treated. Corn plots will be planted by relative maturity and population percentage. Since these plots are for training and observation only, they will have four rows, 100 to 150 feet long. The agronomy team will be responsible for monitoring the plots throughout the planting, growing and harvest seasons, keeping tabs on emergence, fungicide/herbicide applications, nutrient inputs, disease and insect observation, and general hybrid/variety observations.

    “These plots will be planted and managed by Stine and not a competitor party,” says Larson. “The agronomy team will ensure consistency across all checks and balances — we want the data and our observations of these plots to provide the truest look at how our products perform on a regional level.”


    Stine’s Side-by-Side plots are just as they sound. We work directly with our growers or prospective customers to plant one of our products next to a competitor’s product to see how they measure up.

    “You might see some farmers who have a big planter fill half of the planter with our seed and the other half with a competitor,” says Larson. “Since Stine genetics are typically shorter in stature than most competitors, we ask that each grower plant a 10 acre block minimum to prevent a shading effect. You’ll always have a point where the two products meet in the field but planting more acres per plot allows customers and those interested in viewing the plot a better picture of real performance.”

    A shading effect occurs when a product of a taller stature is planted next to a short-stature product. They might be the same maturity and have similar emergence schedules, but the taller plant will undoubtedly shade out the shorter-stature plant. This limits its access to sunlight and uses up much of the nutrients in the ground as taller material needs more to grow.

    “We have a good system in place for customers who wish to plant a Stine Side-by-Side Plot that ensures a level playing ground for both our products and that of our competitors,” says Larson. “We look forward to seeing the results in the field this season.”

    Work doesn’t stop with the plots

    Although the agronomy team’s core focus will be on planning and implementing the Product Development Plots followed by the Stine Success Demos and Side-by-Side Plots, there’s still a lot of other research going on behind the scenes.

    “The agronomy team — we’re definitely not slackers,” Larson jokes. “In addition to our plot program, we’re going into the second year of our seed treatment study for corn and employing our emergence flag study again to monitor emergence, including with treated seed. We’ll be busy, but it’s all worth it to have the resources our sales team needs to better place our seed and for grower customers to understand how our products will perform in their operation.”

    Interested in learning more about our plot program and what the agronomy team is up to this year? Connect with a Stine agronomist here.


  • Agronomy 2023 outlook, part 1: Product Development Plots

    Agronomy 2023 outlook, part 1: Product Development Plots

    February 16, 2023

    Posted by Stine Seed in Research

    At Stine, our agronomy department is focused on the future and has a full agenda for the 2023 farming season. From planting to harvest, our agronomy team’s goal is to conduct more in-field analysis of product performance, including the hybrids and varieties that have advanced to our Elite Yield Trials and are close to commercialization.

    “Previously, we focused more on current product offerings and their performance in our sales territories,” says Tom Larson, director of agronomy. “That will still be a part of our strategy moving forward, but this year we’re going to spend more time with the products in our Elite Yield Trials so that we can gain information that will aid in the selection process of future products.” 


    Stine® agronomy has coined this research as the Product Development Plot program — an effort that will allow us to review all Stine germplasm from our Elite Yield Trials through replicated strip trial plots throughout the country.

    “Our agronomy team will be charged with managing the entire program — from finding the locations for each plot to getting the seed ready, planting the plots, taking notes and checking yields,” says Larson. “We’ll also use the plots to train our sales team on how these new products will perform in their regions so that nothing is left to interpretation.”

    Plot setup

    To ensure consistency in research, the agronomy team has strict guidelines in place. Each corn plot will be planted by height or maturity with a minimum of 12 row plots with the center six rows harvested. Each side of the plot will have a 15-foot barrier to minimize risk of outside factors coming into the field.

    “Our goal with only harvesting the centers of our corn plots is to eliminate the potential for shading or any other outside influence along the field barriers that can impact yield,” says Larson. “This is especially true for corn as Stine has shorter-stature material compared to competitors. We want a true sampling of these products.”

    Each corn plot length has a 300-foot minimum. The agronomy team will test both glyphosate and non-glyphosate plots. They’ve also nailed down specific dates for the plot seed to be bagged and shipped to ensure its timely arrival for planting. Agronomists will also conduct Stine’s emergence study at these plots to evaluate corn emergence to demonstrate how uniform emergence impacts ears and yield.

    On the soybean side, plots will be planted by maturity, with a minimum of eight rows and a plot length of 400-feet. The planting population for each plot will be 140k/acre.

    “Our goal is to have a total of 30 corn and 30 soybean plots planted throughout our sales territory at a minimum,” says Larson. We want to make sure the products perform the way we expect them to. And, of course, we’ll compare them to competitor hybrids and varieties of similar maturity for an even playing ground.” 

    Data collected

    All agronomic data will be collected by the agronomy team. Specifically, for corn they will look at emergence scores as they relate to seed treatments; disease ratings; general plant observations; plant, ear, leaf and tassel height; silking and pollination dates; test weight, moisture and yield; and harvestable ear percentage. For soybeans, they’ll look at emergence scores; disease ratings; general plant observations; vegetive/pod development; pollination; moisture; and yield.

    “Stine agronomists will also offer two agronomy training sessions for our sales team per Stine region to ensure they’re equipped with the right facts and messaging about each product,” says Larson. “Our goal is not only to see how these products perform for our own knowledge, but also to gather all possible data prior to commercialization so that we’re better able to place the products in growers’ fields.

    Stay tuned for next week’s agronomic outlook article; we’ll be discussing Stine’s Success Demo Plots. To connect with a Stine agronomist, contact us here.