Pat Holloway, a field agronomist with Beck’s Hybrids in Iowa, is big on planning, especially when it comes to planting corn. As he says, “you get one shot to get it right.” And while planting a crop is far more complicated than non-farmers know, COVID-19 has provided another layer of complexity in 2020.
Farmers may feel the odds are in their favor to stay healthy because of the remote nature of their business, but being wrong can create some serious complications. Most of these issues can be avoided with a formal contingency plan for the farm.
It doesn’t need to be pretty or formal, but it needs to be in writing; it needs to have some essential details, and you need to make it readily available and share with several others, Holloway said. Things you need to include:
- Seed Plan - Have your seed plan available. Each seed company can provide you one if you don’t already have it available. They can be called different names depending on the company, but this is a critical document. Ask your dealer to email one if you don’t have it.
- Put copies of your seed plan in your seed shed, planter tractor and the truck that will be used with your seed tender.
- Field Maps - Every farm has numerous fields and locations. Make sure you provide field maps. Highlight in a Plat book if possible. Mark field entrance and notes on where to start.
- Provide specific information for each field. What hybrid to plant. Is there more than one hybrid to be planted in the same field?
- Plant Population - What’s the plant population for each field.
- GMO or Conventional - Specify if a field is conventional, GMO or a specialty variety.
- Seed Treatments – If you have a specific treated seed to match up with a field, provide that information.
- Herbicide Plan - Relate relevant herbicide information for each field, so you don’t end up killing corn. Has Spring chemical been applied?
- Fertilizer Plan – What is the fertility status for each field? Has it been applied? Do you use a starter fertilizer, burndown?
- Planting Depth – Do you have a target planting depth for the seed. This is especially relevant if you’re planting soybeans.
- Row Width – If your neighbor/friend is using their own equipment, they will want to know your preferred row width.
- Field Work – Is any pre-work needed? Is it no-till? Do you use a field-finisher?
- Equipment – Provide a list of what equipment is available for them to use? Your helper might be hesitant to use your tractor and or planter preferring to use their own, but your other equipment will likely get called into action.
- Contacts: Provide a list of key contacts. Is there someone who knows your operation well enough to answer questions on your behalf? Perhaps an elderly relative or a farm management company. Provide a list of key people such as hired help, seed dealer, a fertilizer company, fuel supplier, machinery dealership, chemical and fertilizer retailer, repair services. Make sure the family has your crop insurance agent and Ag lender name and number.
- Small Stuff – don’t forget the small stuff like the location of keys to equipment, your fuel tank, etc.…
NCGA is committed to keeping you informed, safe and healthy, so we’re passing along best practices as we move through the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.