Flat vs Round Seed, Emergence and Vigor part 1 with Corey Evans
Mar 27, 2019
Jesse Wiant: Thanks Stef, so like Stef said, today we've got Corey Evans with us. We've had many conversations over the last couple of years on seed specifically, placement and that kind of thing. Today we want to talk a little bit about seed sizes, as there's been some questions in the countryside, as well as seed treatments. The last couple of years we've had some larger size seeds in the beans. I'm interested to get Corey's take on how that plays a factor in stay stand establishment or maybe even yield. So again, that's why Corey's here, so Corey, thanks for joining us. Why don't you give us a little background on what your role is with WinField United and your past as well.
Corey Evans: Thanks Jesse for having me. So, a little background on me. I spend my time as a technical seed agronomist for WinField United. So what that means is, I really focused on our Croplan, corn and soybean line up, looking at a portfolio, understanding what products are in it, what our needs are, and really how our products fit with our current partners. Then the other part of my time is spent with our internal staff, making sure they're up to speed on products, and then helping train our retail sellers at the locations that partner with us and understanding how our Croplan portfolio fits with other products they're selling. I was actually born and raised just down the road in Le Sueur, MN and grew up going to Le Sueur - Henderson high school, got a degree in agronomy from the University of Minnesota, working on an MBA from University of Nebraska, Lincoln and here I sit, living just up the road in Waconia. So spent most of my life here in south central Minnesota, spent a little time in Thief River Falls, right as I started my career and then down to western Minnesota. And now I'm back as close to home as I've ever been.
Jesse Wiant: So, you've spent some time kind of all over the state, what area do cover now? I guess maybe just touch on that a little bit too.
Corey Evans: Yeah. Right now I spend all my time covering basically from 94 south. So I cover all the state of Minnesota. But of course our main corn, soybean growing area would really encompass 94 and south. Few spots up towards St. Cloud. I really cover 85-day maturity all the way down to 110-days. So, with several of our partner products and our products fitting that portfolio, there's a lot of products that know and understand and try to figure out how to get some insights on them that make a difference to a grower.
Jesse Wiant: And that's, I guess that's what I was wanting you to talk about. just being able to see the differences. So you said 85 to 110, that's quite a variety. Plus, it's not just the Croplan brand that you're looking at, right? So within answer plot system we're covering Croplan, Dekalb, Asgrow, Micogen, Pioneer and the Syngenta Line Up. So I mean you get to see quite a big variety of things. So that's why I like having conversations with you about what you're seeing or different varieties and how those RT scores how those actually play.
Corey Evans: Yeah. If someone was going to show up at an answer plot, which is really our focus for research and development, they'd see the first front of it, which is maybe an acre or two and that's where we do our demonstrations. We get to pull the ears, we could look at soybeans, but that's only maybe part of the story. All the real interesting stuff for me comes in the back where we were doing replicated research. We have all of our partner products and even some pioneer products going through our evaluations on response to scores. And it's just that simple, easy place to go and walk 15 acre fields and see all the stuff that we could potentially sell or we could potentially partner with our Dekalb, NK, Micogen partners and understanding how to put all of these different product opportunities together in one package.
Jesse Wiant: So let's kick this thing off. We've been getting a few questions related to specifically corn seed rounds versus flats.
Corey Evans: Yeah, you're saying that with a smile Jesse, and there's a lot of different ways we could go with that. When I think of seed size specifically, I think of it like a filter, right? What's the first filter you have to go through to make the right selection on a product? I think the first thing is looking at, okay, what do I have for a planter and what's my ability to plant different size of seed and different weights. So if you're planting, precision planting, eSets, vSets, pretty much have the full gamut to run with, you don't have a lot of limitations on singulation success. As you may be going to more finger planters, you have to be a little more focused on opportunities and which products maybe you don't have the best success with, whether you're getting too big or too small. And the next one is what's it mean for germination and stand establishment success? If we take that at a 10,000 foot perspective when we're looking at getting corn seed up and out of the ground, we're really focused on trying to get all of those plants up in relatively the same time, whether that's a 12 or 24 hour window and we want them spaced as close to perfect as possible. So if you're shooting for seven inch, six inch, eight inch stand deviation, whatever that normal spacing is, I think that's the next filter. Some of that can be influenced by, are you having success with seed size matching up with your planter and as you look at large versus flats you could have a conversation of, well the smaller seed doesn't need as much water to imbibe and start the germination process. Maybe the larger seed has a bigger starch bank that can be utilized for a quicker growth and emergence and the data may be a little skewed on it. We don't have a great idea on what's right or what's wrong. But I think starting out, if I have to make decision as a grower on seed size it's, what's going to work for my planter and the technology I have? What do I feel comfortable with? And then a lot of it's personal preference. What have I done for the last 5, 10, 15 years farming? I think oftentimes farmers stick to their personal preference just because that's what they're comfortable with. But I don't see huge swings making or breaking a yield just by looking at large versus flat seat.
Jesse Wiant: Well, I know that earlier we talked about this too, Corey, but we've seen a study where round versus flat, where the consensus was that the round seed, when it starts the germination process, it doesn't really know up from down. Where the flats supposedly know where up is or where the sunlight is. So I don't know if there's really any true data to support that, except it was probably just somebody's assumption or observation maybe. So I guess I would second what you said on the fact that it's maybe personal preference or what that planter can actually handle from a seed size standpoint. I think those are the things that are most important versus is one really truly better than the other.
Corey Evans: You bring up a really good point. So last year as we were getting hit with another blizzard in April, Jon Zuk, our region agronomist and I spent some time in our River Falls Innovation Center, since we had time to spend in April waiting for wheels to turn. We did a little study on seed positioning and how does that affect emergence and maybe leaf orientation. So we learned a few things. All we did was we took a single black planter box like you would on any garden shelf and we took that and we position different corn seeds at different orientations. So we put it in the ground at two inches, facing down, fixing up, facing sideways, and we put them next to each other to see when they come out of the ground, do they orient their leaves differently just by positioning into the ground. And obviously there was some potting soil that maybe doesn't replicate normal growing conditions out in farmer's fields, but even in potting soil and pretty quick germination and emergence, you could see significant differences just from having the embryo pointed down versus the embryo pointed up and the consistency of the leaf orientating the same way versus some that were shadowing out the next door corn seed. And Jon and I joked of yes, large and rounds may have an influence on yield and stand establishment. But what if you could plant a corn seed in the right orientation across your field? What would that look like? Do you think that would change your yield by 5 bushels by 10 bushels by 2 bushels or would you even notice it? And then the question comes up, do you have the technology to do it? Maybe someday we'll be planting corn seed in a tap like they plant vegetable seeds, right? And it's always positioned the right orientation, but maybe we have bigger rocks to figure out first before that comes.
Jesse Wiant: Yup. So as long as we were talking about the germination, in a lot of our seed guides that are out there, brands don't matter, but there's typically a seedling vigor score or a vigor score. Does that relate to emergence or is that something completely separate and what is it? How does it differ from the emergence? If it does.
Corey Evans: It's a great time of the year to ask that question. In our observations, we really do two different ratings. We do an emergence rating and we do a vigor rating. So the emergence rating would be someone like myself within the Croplan business looking at, let's take for example our new product 4188 SS/RIB. We would look that in an answer plot, probably make an observation five, six, seven times at different answer plots and go, okay, we know we've got 30 feet of row planted, what was our stand establishment? Did we get all the seeds to come up and out of the ground? And how even as it? So if you have a one, that would be like our cropland 3909 SS (smart stacks), there's nothing hardly in this seed world that can beat 3909 smart stacks out of the ground, it's really fast. And the second step of that is once it gets out of the ground, you have to rate it on vigor. So how fast is it? Get up out of the ground is emergence, vigor is really how does it go through V1 to V3. I look at an older product as far as be like 3611 smart stacks. So it was pretty quick out of the ground, but I referenced it to sitting back on your haunches. As soon as that product got up and out of the ground, it took me a little bit longer to go from V1 to V3 then a product like 4188 smart stacks or 3909 smart stacks that gets up out of the ground really strong and then it goes through the growth stages at a faster pace than maybe a product that has more of an average vigor. Then the next question is, which one do you plant first? Right, Jesse?
Jesse Wiant: Yeah. Yeah. I was just going to ask.
Corey Evans: I think, well, there's really two questions probably part of that, as we get planters rolling, we get in the fields, we're anxious. We're going to be probably going before 50 degree soil temperatures and rising, right? There's always a few growers in the countryside that want to get in and get planted timely. And then we have to have the conversation, which variety should be in the planter first. And if we're looking at a marginal soil temperature, marginal seed bed, the first decision I make is, what's my emergence score, right? We want to have a fast, strong emerging product to maybe manage some of those more stressful conditions. So first screen, I'd look at is, what's the emergent score? But the second thing is what's the response to population? That's a really weird thing to talk about, a response population and seedling emergence, but think about this. If you had a average emerging product and you lost maybe 1,000 to 2,000 plants per acre because they didn't come up as strong, but you got to really flex type ear and it overcame some of that population loss, you might not see a huge yield difference. So I think part of it's understanding of, okay, if you are optimizing yield on a hybrid by pushing populations, you probably don't want to sacrifice any stand in planting that too early. So if you're pushing populations, you're going for your highest yield, optimum yield, don't let the planting too early and maybe average emergence hold you back from that. Now if you've got more of a moderate response population product or a low response population product that's got a little more flex, maybe you don't have to have the best, fastest emerging product, but you still want to look at something strong because that flex might give you some ability to overcome a loss population.
Jesse Wiant: So you touched on planting in cold, wet soils. It seems like every year in this area we battle that. It seems like fields or some fields are fit to plant, but maybe were not there from a soil temperature aspect. So last year for prime example, there was still frost in the ground when we planted in a lot of cases, I would venture to say we're going to see that again with how deep the frost went this year. What do we need to be worried about? Is it imbibitional chilling? Is that a real thing? Is it from the frost? Is it from that first cold drink of water? What should we be concerned with there?
Corey Evans: I guess I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to be 70 degrees on April 10th and we won't have to worry about that. But in the event that it's maybe 50 degrees and we're having a few planting challenges, you hit it on the head, Jesse. We always seem to have a conversation somewhere in the state of Minnesota about imbibitional chilling. Really what that is, is as that corn seed takes that first drink of water, what we really worry about is the first 24 to 48 hour period of how warm or cold is that water. If that water is 50 degrees or warmer and we got pretty warm soil temperatures, but really don't worry about that affecting that corn seed. But when you start getting the mid and lower 40 degree water and even colder soil temperatures, what you run into is imbibitional chilling. So that first drink water comes into the corn plant and abides and when you have cold water, you can break cell membranes a lot quicker than you can with warm water. As that seed is inflating, if you break cell membrane, you can leak out part of your cell solution and then you have an unbuyable seed. So we always talk about imbibitional chilling when we look at forecast and it's been maybe 50 degrees or soil temperatures are already marginal and we look at a cold rain coming in. I think most agronomist would have a conversation of, Oh boy, should we stop the planters? Is it going to be bad if we plant right up into a 24 hour period before that wet season happens or the wet rain event happens? And I think that ties right back to that germination and emergence story just went through. Imbibitional chilling on a seed that experiences a cold rain in the first 24 hours, oftentimes you can find it. If the soil temperature is 50 degrees, you get that cold rain, you can walk out and dig your furrow up and find some dead seeds. That's pretty common when that happens. But what's not always exact is do you see a yield hit? Just back to this response population thing, if you have a big flex year and you lose 500 plants, you might not see the detrimental effect yield versus having a super fixed product that needs population to yield. So it's always a question of, okay, what's the risk if I keep planting up to this 24 hour, 48 hour window versus should I keep going knowing that I can't get back into the field for three, four, five days?
Jesse Wiant: So can we mitigate some of that risk? So that's like the most impossible conversation to have with a grower, right? Is to tell them to wait. if conditions are fit, they're not going to wait, right? Even if it is a little cold. So can we help them mitigate some of that risk like a starter, maybe even a PGR in furrow? Does that help with the imbibitional chilling aspect of things or potentially could it?
Corey Evans: I don't own any tractor keys so I don't have any influence of the tractors actually stop or not. But if I'm going to make the decision to push the envelope, I think the first thing to think about is okay, do I have proper seed bed conditions and do I have a soil temperature that I'm comfortable with? So that would be 50 degrees and warming in the next three or four days. If I'm happening to see this rainfall event in the forecast and I want to plant up to that, knowing that it might be a week before I get back into the field, I think you hit it on the head. I would make sure that I'm planting the right hybrid for my acre and that goes along with a strong emergence score. If I've got an average emerging score and a really fixed hybrid, I'm a little worried about planting that, because I don't want to sacrifice so much yield if I'm only giving up three, four, five days of planting date. When you look at what could you do in furrow to help mitigate that risk? If we're at 45 - 50 - 55 degree soil temperatures, the next step of the germination processes is needing phosphorus or energy to get that corn seed up and out of the ground, well really in our soil temperatures at 50 degrees, less than 30% of your phosphorus is actually available. Phosphorus availability is a function of really soil temperature. So adding an in furrow starter as a phosphorous source is key to provide that first shot of rocket fuel, of energy, right away. And then I'd look at adding a zinc product, so zinc, like Jon Zuk our regional agronomist ,always says is the forklift driver in the factory. It's really good at packing, unpacking proteins that are required for that germination process. And then I'd look, at you brought up the word Ascend, Ascend SL or Ascend Pro. So it's a plant growth regulator with three different plant hormones. The real key of it being gibberellic acid, so gibberellic acid is really what builds up and starts this hormonal cascade that causes the germination process to start. So make sure you've got the right product, the strong emergence score, and then looking at an in furrow package that has some components of a phosphorus source, a zinc source, and a plant growth regulator source.
Jesse Wiant: So Corey, we just spent a lot of time on corn. It seems like corn is our major crop in our area. It seems like soybeans are there typically the forgotten crop. We are going to cover soybeans though before you leave. We're going to do a two-part episode. Try to keep the listening time down a little bit. So look for a part two next week, specifically on beans.
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