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Spring into Action: Growers prepare for 2024 planting season

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

With winter’s chill beginning to wane, the ground starting to thaw and the first signs of spring emerging, growers have turned their attention to the upcoming planting season. 

And, since preparation is key for a successful harvest, steps taken in the early days of spring will set the tone for coming months. 

From ground preparation, pest control and equipment maintenance, growers can begin preparing for the 2024 spring planting season now. 

Preparing soils 

Many experts agree one of the most important steps to achieving a successful harvest is to properly prepare soils prior to planting. 

BarnDoor Ag, an agricultural equipment company based out of Marshall, Mo., notes it is crucial for growers to understand what type of soil they have on their land, how well it retains moisture and what crops will grow best in it. 

For those who are less experienced or simply haven’t taken the time to do so, the company encourages investing in a soil test, which generally measures phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, pH, cation exchange capacity, lime requirement index and base saturation.

Corn Belt Testing, Inc. of Minneapolis points out regardless of how seasoned a grower is, they should still conduct a routine soil test prior to planting so they can check the nutrient content of their soils, especially if their fertilization strategies involve cover crops. 

Further, results from a soil test will help a grower decide what to plant and how best to take care of those plants to ensure a successful harvest. 

After conducting a soil test, BarnDoor Ag notes there are a few things farmers can do to enhance their soils prior to planting, including composting, tilling or plowing and harrowing. While these tasks are usually performed in the fall, early April is still not too late to do so.

“Composting is an important key to healthy soil, offering a number of benefits including water-holding capacity and improved tilth or soil conditions,” explains the company. “This includes the degree of soil aeration and the formation and stability of aggregated soil particles, to name a few.” 

Tilling or plowing, often followed by harrowing, are other steps one can take to create better crop conditions. These strategies break up the soil bed and prepare a good foundation to plant seeds.

Preventing pests 

Both insects and weeds create problems for the farming industry, and protecting crops from pests takes diligent planning and preparation. 

BarnDoor Ag notes for pests which have made an early appearance, identification is important for eradication, and growers may consider using pre-emergent pesticides to help control these pests before they start to invade. 

“For spot applications, handheld sprayers allow precise targeting in an infested area. Many of these offer a one- to eight-gallon tank capacity and come with a wand so individuals can closely control the spray,” the company explains. “However, if there is a larger problem, there are larger tank sprayers which attach to an ATV vehicle and provide an 140-inch boom coverage.”

Corn Belt Testing, Inc. further encourages growers to consider their spray strategies, as warm wet springs will require a different spray strategy than a dry spring. 

Conducting equipment maintenance and repairs 

Another important task on the spring planting preparation checklist is to ensure farm equipment, which has likely sat idle through winter months, is in good shape to use this spring. 

In an April 9 Farm Progress article, former Wallaces Farmer Editor Rod Swoboda says growers should check tire pressure, machine ballasting, batteries, belts, hoses and fluid levels of their tractors and ensure their tillage tools are level from front to back and side to side and adjusted properly to help provide a uniform seedbed for planting. 

Growers should also check their planter tires, tire pressure, row units, hoses, belts and electrical wiring, as well as the planter’s depth and closing systems. 

“Field trial research has shown these two planter settings are key to consistent seedling emergence and in achieving yield potential,” Swoboda says. 

Iowa State University Extension Digital Ag Specialist Doug Houser comments, “It is important to properly prepare and maintain the planter to set the stage for the seed to get planted at the proper depth and then to make sure the seed trench is properly closed to ensure plants emerge at the same time.” 

“Planting seed at the right time, at the right seed depth and in acceptable soil conditions is critical to giving crops the best starting point to reach individual yield goals,” Houser concludes.

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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