MAQUON, Ill. — This spring, Dan England had all his soybeans and more than half his corn crop planted in Knox County in Western Illinois by May 1. It was the first year he has planted all his soybeans first. The decision was prompted by the cold ground — knowing that research shows soybeans can tolerate colder conditions better than corn can.
“A lot of people are doing the same,” England said.
By May Day he already planted half of his 2,200 acres of corn and was pleased with the planting conditions.
He is sticking with his proven planting populations of 140,000 seeds per acre for soybeans this year. He had considered reducing that number, but he hesitated doing both — plant lower populations and plant soybeans first in colder soils.
In the cab of his tractor, it is clear he carefully monitors all his decisions. One monitor shows the two corn hybrids he is planting at the same time, another shows his CleanSweep system which controls for an ideal seed bed.
His John Deere monitor shows the auto steer controls, and his Precision Planting 20/20 SeedSense monitor provides him with a variety of other information as he passes through the field.
He isn’t using variable rate planting, but monitors the seed singulation and other aspects of planting carefully. He tried prescription farming once, but wasn’t impressed with the results.
His practices have proven successful. Last year, even with the challenging weather, he yielded 229 bu./acre corn and 69 bu./soybeans. It was the second year in a row for that yield for soybeans.
England has used a variety of cover crops over the years to improve soil health. This year he is even growing cereal rye for seed.