Guide to Sowing and Planting Practices of Crops

Crops agricultural practices are essentially a set of principles to be applied to farm production processes to produce better agricultural products. They are simply agricultural practices used to make farming easier.

Nowadays, some of the methods used in agriculture include good agricultural practices, which aid in the production of food for consumers as well as safe further processing.

Our farmers are critical to the cultivation of crops that will feed the entire population like growing crops in France.

Guide to Sowing and Planting Practices of Crops

1. Times of Sowing or Planting all Crops e.g. Cash crops

Several factors influence the time of sowing or planting. They are:

a.         Rainfall

b.         temperature

c.         day length

d.         occurrence of disease and pest

e.         marketing

f.          cropping system

g.         availability of labor and equipment

a.        Rainfall

One of the primary factors that should determine when a crop should be planted is rainfall or the availability of moisture.

Seasonally, the crop should be planted when there will be enough subsequent rainfall to see it through to maturity or full establishment.

As a result, the planting of long-season annual crops such as yam must occur at the start of the rainy season so that the crop has the entire rainy season to develop.

It is also recommended to plant perennial crops such as cassava, cocoa, and rubber in the field early in the rainy season so that the crop can establish itself before the dry season begins.

Planting of short-season annuals like cowpeas, sweet potatoes, and maize can be delayed during the rainy season as long as the crop can finish growing and developing before the dry season begins.

When the intention is to let the maturity period coincide with a rainless period, this can be problematic.

Sowing cowpeas or millet, for example, is frequently timed so that the crop matures during a dry period.

Planting should be done in moist soil to promote rapid seed germination or vegetative propagule sprouting.

As a result, planting is usually finished within a few days of the rain.

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b.         Temperature

Another climatic factor that influences planting time is temperature.

This aspect is critical in temperate regions, but it is only important at high altitudes in the tropics, where planting should be done when the soil is warm enough to allow rapid germination.

Excessively high temperatures may harm seedling emergence in other parts of the tropics, particularly in the drier regions.

c.         Day length

A third factor that may influence planting time is day length, also known as photoperiod.

Normally, the crop should be planted at a time when the appropriate photoperiod is present at the flowering or tubing stage.

Some okra varieties, for example, that require short days for flowering will remain vegetative for the majority of the rainy season if long-day conditions prevail.

Planting of such varieties could be conveniently postponed so that short-day flowering conditions exist shortly after the plants are fully established.

d.         Occurrence of disease and pests

The occurrence of disease and pests may have an impact on the timing of planting.

The strategy is usually to adjust the planting time so that the crop is on the field when disease and pest are at their lowest levels.

This factor, for example, has had a significant impact on cowpea production in southern Nigeria.

Cowpeas sown early in the rainy season is plagued by a slew of diseases and pests, but if sowing is postponed until the latter half of the rainy season, the incidence of diseases and pests is reduced and a good yield can be obtained.

e.         Marketing

The timing of planting may also be influenced by marketing considerations.

Planting is timed so that harvesting takes place when the crop can command a good market price.

This is especially true for vegetables and other crops that cannot be stored for long periods.

f.          Cropping system

The position of a crop in a rotation or an intercropping system may influence when it is planted during the cropping cycle.

Many intercropped farmers in West Africa, for example, plant cassava in the latter part of the rainy season after some of the earlier intercropped crops, such as maize, okra, and melon, have been harvested.

Cassava could have been planted sooner, but it is designed to wait until the harvesting of the earlier intercrops leaves enough space between the yam plants.

g.         Availability of labor and equipment

Other factors that may influence planting time include the availability of labor, equipment, and processing facilities.

Read Also: Systems of Crop Production

2.      Methods of seed planting

Planting of field crops is typically done using one of the following methods:

a.         Broadcasting

b.         Drilling

c.         Precision planting

d.        Transplanting

a.         Broadcasting

This is the deliberate scattering of seeds on a prepared seedbed or field.

There is no discernible inter- or intra-row crop spacing observed.

Crops commonly planted using this method include rice, wheat, sesame, and some vegetables.

b.         Drilling method

In this method, seeds are planted in shallow furrows made with a disc or a hoe and then buried.

The distance between plants can be regulated or not. A wide range of field crops is planted using this method.

c.         Precision planting

Cereal crops like maize, sorghum, and millet are planted with precise inter and intra row spacing to achieve a high plant density.

This method ensures maximum productivity and crop yield.

d.         Transplanting

Some crops are grown in a nursery before being transplanted into a permanent field, where they mature and complete their growth cycle.

Tobacco, tomato, pepper, and other vegetable seeds are raised in a nursery before being planted in the field.

In some cases, rice and sorghum are also transplanted.

Transplanting has the advantage of reducing seed waste and providing farmers with the opportunity to transplant only healthy and vigorous seedlings for the best results.

3. The following factors influence the selection of planting methods

a.            Seed size

b.            Growth habit of the plant

c.             Seedbed preparation

d.            Climatic condition

e.            Labor availability

f.             Seed placement in the field

The general aspects of seed placement in the field are as follows:

a. The number of seeds sown at each location is recorded.

b. The distance between stands

c. The depth at which seeds are sown

d. The seed’s position in relation to the previous tillage operation, i.e. whether the seed is sown on the ridges or mounds, in the furrows, on the ridge slopes, or on the flat.

Read Also: 7 Most Essential Micronutrients Fertilizer in Crop Production: The Key to Higher Crop Yield

4.     Number of seeds per stand

Guide to Sowing and Planting Practices of Crops

The number of seeds sown per stand is determined by the expected percentage of seed germination and the number of plants desired per stand.

Prior germination testing determines the expected percentage of germination, and if it is low, the number of seeds sown per stand is increased proportionally.

The number of seeds sown on each stand is sometimes purposefully kept high so that the number of plants that appear on each stand exceeds the desired number.

When the seedlings have grown sufficiently, the extra plants are removed, leaving only the desired number of plants per stand.

Thinning refers to the process of removing excess emerged seedlings.

The following are the primary advantages of deliberate over-seeding and subsequent thinning:

a. It allows for the selection of weak seedlings.

b. It ensures that the vigorous ones are retained.

c. It ensures that each stand has the appropriate number of seedlings.

5.   Spacing between the stands

The distance between stands is largely determined by the size of the crop plant’s root and shoot system.

The spacing determines the amount of land available to each plant or stand, and the larger the plant, the more area is needed for it to perform well.

The spacing between crop rows is usually adjusted to accommodate mechanical planters.

Sowing can also be done by scattering seeds at random across a field or plot.

This method of sowing is known as broadcasting.

Broadcasting is most commonly used to sow small seeds in the field, such as rice, or vegetable seeds in a nursery.

Drilling is a slightly different method of seed sowing in which the seed is sown in rows in a continuous band.

As a result, the space between the rows is fixed and calculable, but the space within the row is arbitrary.

The spacing between stands determines the number of stands per hectare.

The number of stands per hectare and the number of plants per stand determines the plants per hectare or plant density.

6.       Dept of sowing seeds

The dept at which seed is placed in the soil is influenced by:

─           Seed size

─           Type of germination

─           Moisture status of the soil

─           Soil type.

a.      Seed size  

The larger the seed, the deeper it can emerge and the deeper it can be sown safely.

This is because large seeds have a lot of stored food material for the germination process.

As a result, they produce vigorous seedlings with enough food stored to last the long journey from great depths.

Small seeds, on the other hand, rapidly deplete their food reserves.

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b.      Type of Germination

A species’ ability to emerge from great depths is influenced by the type of germination displayed by its seeds.

Seeds with epigeal germination must push their cotyledons to the surface, limiting their ability to emerge from great depths.

c.       Moisture status of the soil

In dry conditions, the seeds should be planted deeper to come into contact with moist soil.

d.      Soil type

If all other factors remain constant, seeds can emerge from greater depths in sandy soil than in clay soil. Sowing depths can thus be adjusted based on soil texture.

7. Position of seeds in respect to land preparation

The crop type and climatic factors determine the position of the seed as well as land preparation.

To keep the seed out of the high water table in waterlogged conditions, it is usually planted on top of a mound or ridge.

On the other hand, in dryland areas, planting the crop in the furrow may ensure greater moisture availability.

8.   Placement of vegetative Propagules

The principles of seed placement in the field apply to the planting of vegetative propagules as well.

Because of the large amount of food they usually contain, such propagules can emerge from much deeper depths than seeds.

However, they should not be planted deeper than 5-10 cm into the soil.

The orientation of vegetative propagules is another factor to consider.

When stem cuttings are planted inverted, they do not sprout or perform poorly.

Read Also: The Origin of Cultivated Crops

9.  Seed Emergence and Seedlings vigor

The appearance of the seedling above ground is referred to as emergence.

Despite the fact that germination takes place only a few days after planting.

The emergence of the seedling above ground is the first visible indication to the farmer that germination has occurred and that the seedling is on its way to establishing itself.

From the perspective of the farmer, there are three critical aspects of emergence:

a. The period between planting and emergence.

b. The final percentage of emergence.

c. Emergence uniformity.

The emergence time should ideally be as short as possible so that the seedling can establish independent existence before the seed reserves run out.

i.   Factors influencing seed emergence

1.            Temperature

2.            The time of germination

3.            The sowing depth,

4.            The nature of the soil and the

5.            Vigor of the seedling.

The time to emergence is usually short if germination is rapid, the temperature is moderate, the sowing depth is shallow, the seedling is vigorous, and the soil is light, loose, and free of crust.

The final percentage emergence is the proportion of sown seeds that germinate.

This percentage determines the type of stand obtained.

If the percentage is low, it indicates that the stand is poor and irregular, and the farmer should consider replanting.

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ii.    Causes of poor emergence

1.            Poor germination

2.            Very low seedling vigor

3.            Sowing at too great a depth

4.            Attack of disease and pests

5.            Extremes of temperature may severely retard the growth of seedlings.

iii.    The uniformity of emergence

This indicates whether all of the seedlings emerged at the same time (i.e. on the same day) or whether there was a long period between the early and late emergers.

Importance of uniform emergence

─      It ensures that all of the plants in the field are roughly the same age.

─      Timing-dependent operations such as fertilizing and harvesting can be programmed.

Factors affecting the uniformity of emergence

– Germination uniformity, non-uniform germination will usually result in non-uniform emergence. 

– The use of dormant seeds can also cause uneven germination and emergence.

iv.    Seedling vigour

The seedling vigour assessment indicates the seedling’s health and the likelihood that it will yield well.

The following factors may reduce seedling vigor:

1. Small size of the seed

2. The presence of pathogens in the seed or the soil.

3. Seed storage for an extended period.

4. Unfavorable environmental conditions during germination

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Do you have any questions, suggestions, or other contributions? Kindly use the comment box provided below for all your contributions. You are also encouraged to please kindly share this article with others you feel can benefit from this information if found useful enough as we may not be able to reach everyone at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Nigeria's Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - For Everything Premium Agriculture! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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