Determining What to Plant Leads to Agricultural Success

As is true of most major projects, agricultural success depends on good planning so that you will be building on a solid foundation. However, one of the most important decisions a farmer can make to grow your business is not as straightforward as it might seem. That fundamental decision is…should I add a new crop? And if so, what should I plant?

Some of the top crops in the United States are corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, rye, and canola. Will you choose to add one of these? Or will it be something different?

For the most current and accurate agriculture market information available many farm owners and operators rely on MyDTN.

What is the most important factor to consider in making your decision about expanding your crops? Probably it is the current and projected market price for your proposed crop choice. But this is by no means the only factor that you should consider before making your final decision. 

Market prices are a key factor in deciding what to plant. But, in addition to looking at current prices and the price outlook for the commodity in question, what other important factors should you consider when making that planting decision? Being aware of the essential need-to-know elements in the planning stage will make the difference between your expansion being unsuccessful or successful.


Factors to be considered in deciding what to plant

After careful consultation of the agriculture market and the commodity prices, you might get a pointer in a specific direction concerning your crop choice. What comes next? You need to be sure that the crop will produce a satisfactory yield in the conditions that prevail on your farm. How can you decide if that particular crop will be a successful choice for you? 

A lot will depend on the conditions in your proposed planting location. Your goal in matching the right field to the right crop will understandably be to minimize production problems, maximize the crop yield, and maximize profits. To do that successfully, you will need to think carefully about the physical characteristics of your proposed planting site.

The following sections review two major planting site factors that you should carefully consider: soil and water.

Young plant in soil

Soil type

One of the most important characteristics of your proposed planting location will be the condition of the soil. The state of the soil will have a significant impact on your expected crop yields. For example, soybeans do better in loose, well-aerated soil that is slightly acidic. Conversely, denser and harder soil that is subject to having a hard surface can be detrimental to the soybean crop.

Therefore, it is wise to carefully examine the type of soil in your proposed field, your chosen site for planting your crop. Surveying the earth will let you match the best kind of seed to that particular soil type. The soil’s texture, the degree of compaction, and organic composition are all important characteristics to consider in assessing the suitability of the proposed crop.

Selecting a crop that is not compatible with the type of soil available to you can lead to disastrous results and significant losses. Production problems that can stem from matching a seed with the wrong soil type are many. They will likely include the need to use costly fertilizers, pesticides, and the headache of having to combat the presence of diseases prior to harvest.

Soil type relates to the physical properties of the soil. Soil is made up of decomposed minerals and organic matter. Generally speaking, the best kind of soil is sandy loam soil with good drainage. 

Fundamental to most crop yield success stories is the type of soil where the crop is planted. Therefore, be sure that you spend enough time at the outset analyzing the soil before deciding what to plant in that soil.

Field irrigation

Water supply

Especially if your area has a limited water supply, you will need to consider that limitation before making your final crop selection. A high priority on your list of concerns should be the quantity of water at your disposal for irrigation purposes. 

Even if you decide that there is an adequate water supply, you will also need to consider the capacity of your irrigation system. Can it deliver the amount of water necessary to meet your chosen crop’s requirements? In addition to the quantity of water available for your thirsty crop, you also need to think about the quality of water available for irrigation purposes.

Having high-quality water available (water that has less than 400 ppm soluble salts) becomes more or less critical depending on the quality of the soil.

As this article has pointed out, a prosperous farmer needs to have a thorough knowledge of his land and the products he chooses to grow. Plants are living organisms, and as such, they have precise needs. Plants need suitable soil, the proper nutrients, adequate sunlight, the right amount of water, space, air, and appropriate temperatures to survive.

Make sure that ahead of time, you know as much as possible about your chosen crop. Learn about its germination and growth. Take time to understand the particular diseases that your crops may be susceptible to because the more knowledge you have before deciding what to plant, the more successful you will be.

Tractor driving in field

Other factors that lead to agricultural success

As mentioned at the outset of this article, the farmer also needs to have business savvy. You must be able to not only grow your crop successfully, but you also need to be able to market that product successfully and get a reasonable price for it. 

More and more, farming is becoming an exact science, and all decisions are made by examining the data. So, where can you get the data and insights you need to make decisions for your farm? 

MyDTN uses cutting-edge technology to store the data that you need about your farm and the market at large so that you can make those decisions with all possible precision.