June 29, 2016

The Journey: Planting Process of Corn

Ever wonder what it takes to grow corn in Nebraska? In our new video series titled “The Journey”, Nebraska Corn Board's intern, Morgan Schilling, will follow Nebraska Corn throughout the 2016 growing season explaining everything from planting, growth stages of corn, soil nutrients, irrigation, harvest and more!  We hope this series provides some useful insight to the steps Nebraska farmers take to raise their corn crop every year.

Just joining us? Start at the beginning!
Episode 1:Series Introduction 

Episode 2: Planting Process of Corn
The second episode of 'The Journey' covered how a planting machine works and also what goes into corn hybrid selection.

The planter which is demonstrated in the video is John Deere's ExactEmerge planter.  This planter is one of their newer models and has the capability to plant corn at speeds of up to 10mph.

First, the seed is transferred from a bulk tank at the front of the planter into the individual seed box for each row via a plastic tube. The seed then travels through a seed disk which singulates the seed. While traveling in the seed disk, each individual seed will eventually get pushed out of the disk by a paddle. The seed is pushed out into a brush belt, which runs the length of the seed cartridge. While traveling down the seed cartridge by the brush belt, the seed passes a seed sensor which monitors population, singulation and seed spacing. After passing the sensor, the seed is then carried the remainder of the way down the seed cartridge by the brush belt, and eventually lays into the furrow in the soil which is made by the opening disks that are located in front of the cartridge. After the seed is placed in the furrow, two closing disks close the topsoil over the seed and the seed is then successfully planted into the ground.

During the off-season of farming, growers are often times deciding which type of corn seed they want to plant.  There are many different types of corn seed which can be planted.  These different types of seed are referred to as hybrids.

Hybrid selection can be based off of several things.  One of these things is the field's previous history.  If the field has had problems with certain pests, diseases or weeds in the past, a hybrid can be selected to prevent these things from happening again. Often times these hybrids will make the plant deter insects and disease, or can make the plant immune to certain types of chemicals so the field can be sprayed to kill the pests or weeds without harming the corn plant.

Rainfall and irrigation amounts are also often times taken into consideration when selecting a corn hybrid. There are certain hybrids that can handle heat and dry conditions better. These hybrids possess different physical characteristics such as less droopy leaves in order to attract less sunlight and retain more moisture.  These hybrids also will usually have a shorter growing season than that of an irrigated corn crop.

There are even corn hybrids which are planted primarily for the use of ethanol. These plants produce a grain which contains a certain enzyme which is needed in the production of ethanol. By already possessing these enzymes, there is no need for any additional adding of products in the distillation process which decreases production time and cost.

As you can see, there are many things that go into the planting process of our Nebraska corn. It's not as easy as hooking up the planter and filling it with corn seed, there is a lot of thought process and thorough calculating in order to produce a maximum yielding crop.

Watch the full episode below...

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