“A stitch in time saves nine.” Often attributed to Ben Franklin, this old adage explains that a timely effort today can prevent more work or pain tomorrow. And this is certainly true in the production of corn and beans, where a stand count can help identify concerns while there’s still time to fix them.
A stand count can be as simple as walking in a corn field with a tape measure, noting the hybrid and target plant population, and visually looking at the seedlings to make sure that their growth and development are normal. This can help identify any potential issues that are stressing the plants, such as cold or wet soil or insect pressure. This evaluation should occur four to seven days after planting, as soon as the rows are visible, and again when the corn is knee-high, at roughly the V5 mark.
Steps to Taking a Stand Count for Successful Planting
1. Use a tape to mark off an area equal to one-thousandth of an acre. Use the chart below to determine the length to measure based on your row spacing. For example, if you have 30 inch rows, measure 17 feet 5 inches of a row to get the stand count population estimate.
2. Next, count the number of vigorous plants in the measured area. Measuring the space between the plants is also important. Occasional gaps will occur for a variety of reasons, and may be related to the planter, the seed, or the soil. But repeated gaps may indicate something damaging but treatable, such as insect pressure, or avoidable, such as fertilizer placement.
3. Repeat the stand counts in various parts of the field, and then average the number of plants counted in each area. Multiply this average by 1,000 to get the plant population per acre.
Choosing the Right Area of the Field
It’s important that the areas be selected randomly. There’s no magic number for how many times the process should be repeated. However, in fields with a healthy appearance, if the first counts are near the target population you can move on to the next field. If there are counts that are ten percent less than the target population, take six to ten counts to provide an accurate estimate of the actual plant population. Fields that are 70 percent or less of the target populations may be candidates for replanting. If there’s more than one hybrid planted in the field, farmers will want to repeat the counts in areas with each hybrid. Note the hybrids with strong early emergence as candidates for early planting next year.
Take the Next Step While You’re There
Farmers should also examine the overall plant health and emergence uniformity by digging up seedlings. Look for any brown discoloration that might indicate seedling blight, wilting that might be caused by anhydrous ammonia burn, or damage from insects. Use this information to adjust pest and fertility programs, fertilizer placement, and needed planter upgrades.
All this information can help farmers make any treatment plans necessary to revitalize the crops, or, in a worst-case scenario, decide whether to replant or abandon a field or section of field.
Generate® by Agnition is Proven to Improve Stand Count
Across the Midwest, Generate® has shown consistent stand count improvements. In 42 locations over 3 years, 69% of trials showed a 5% higher stand count on the first visit in areas treated with Generate. This can be attributed to the faster emergence and improved vigor that Generate provides by stimulating the field microbial activity and helping plants be more nutrient efficient.