Uniform emergence puts money in wallet

Uniform germination and emergence go a long way toward growing a profitable crop.

It’s an often elusive goal, but two brothers from Swift Current, Sask., think they have found the answer — effective openers.

“I think 2012 was probably the best crop I’ve ever had, even though we had no rain after June 20,” said Gavin Greenwald, who farms 4,000 acres with his brother, Colin.

“We had excellent, uniform germination in every field. We did some digging and saw that seed spacing within the row was as close to perfect as you can get. The seeds were about an inch apart. We hardly ever saw any seeds on top of each other. No skips. Everything in the row filled in nicely.”

Greenwald attributed their success to the VW30PR openers he installed last winter.

The openers are designed by Vic Wickstrom of VW Manufacturing to address the issue of seeding uniformity.

Wickstrom said his VW30PR paired row opener is the culmination of 30 years experience designing and manufacturing openers. The engineering concept is simply that seeds should gently fall into the seed trench rather than be blasted by a high volume stream of pressurized air.

Greenwald said the concept has worked well on his farm.

“I put in 1,000 acres of durum and my brother, Colin, put in 800 acres durum, all on stubble,” he said.

“Our fields went from 46 bushels to 58 bu. That’s well above the average for our area.”

He said their lentils, which were planted after the durum, didn’t do as well. Emergence was uniform, the crop was staging evenly and it looked like there were lots of healthy plants.

“But they ran out of moisture just when the pods were starting to fill. June 20 was our last rain, so that did it for the lentils. If we’d seeded lentils first, it might have turned out differently.”

Greenwald said uniform germination simplifies management. All the plants in each field stage at the same time, so waiting for green spots is almost eliminated.

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Allen Godenir, who also installed new openers, said he was pleasantly surprised this spring to see uniform germination in every field on his 2,700 acre farm near Swift Current.

“In the spring, I always go out after seeding looking for emergence.”

Farmers typically see little patches of green here and there, up and down the rows, and Godenir said that seems to please farmers because that’s the kind of emergence they’re accustomed to seeing.

However, this spring the field check was different for Godenir.

“They all came through at the same time, all the way down the rows. There were no patches and no skips. End to end and from row to row, it was all uniformly green. And all my fields came up like that. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Godenir thinks the VW30PR Triple Chute Paired Row openers he used for the first time did the trick.

“I’ve had real problems in the past with all the other boots I’ve tried. I couldn’t cut the wind down enough to stop seed bounce and still get the seed and fertilizer to flow into the trench,” he said.

“I’ve tried three different kinds of air seeders and a lot of different tips, but I kept having problems with uneven emergence, skips, missed patches and clumps. My land is a sandy clay loam. They call it loose top loam. These triple chute openers are the only ones that ever performed like this for us. No seed bounce and no plugging.”

Godenir said the benefit of uniform emergence followed his crop through the entire season, whether he was spraying for insects, disease or weeds.

The benefit continued into harvest. Out of 1,460 acres of durum, one 20 acre slough was late because it was too wet and seeded later. Everything else was ready at the same time and at the same height.

“It’s a really nice crop to combine with everything uniform like that. You don’t have to be on the lookout for green spots.”

Godenir said his durum on stubble averaged 30.1 bu. per acre, while lentils averaged 26 bu. per acre.

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“That’s considered pretty good in this country. Now, maybe I’m giving too much credit to the openers because we had excellent germination conditions this spring, but from what I’ve seen this year, I think these openers are the answer I’ve been looking for.”

Wickstrom said there’s no need for farmers to spend big money buying a new air drill if they do a better job controlling air and product down at the opener.

He still allows the seed to come blasting down the front tube in his opener.

However, he then slows it down as it enters a large chamber with a splitter ramp on the floor.

As seed speed lessens, the ramp sends half the seeds to the left wall and half to the right wall. Airflow keeps seeds tight against the walls until they fall out the back end of the chamber.

“We achieve those nice straight narrow rows of seed because the seeds are held tight against the walls. They never get blasted helter-skelter like birdshot from a shotgun,” said Wickstrom.

The outside walls of the paired seed rows are 2.5 inches apart, which means each seed is more than one inch off to the side and 3/8 inch below the nitrogen band that runs down the middle.

“There’s a 3/8 inch raised heel on the flat bottom surface of the opener,” he said.

“It cuts a groove so the nitrogen band has to be 3/8 inch below the seeds.”

The paired row opener includes a tube for liquid start-up fertilizer to be dribbled into each seed row.

Every wear point is made of carbide plates to ensure the opener keeps the original shape.

For more information, contact Wickstrom at 403-528-3350 or visit www.vwmfg.com.

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