Play the latest episode:



Brought to you by:

Yetter Farm Equipment logo

“It appears as if it's going to be in early spring, which will be good. On top of that, we had a really good fall last year, so it looks like it'll be favorable conditions for planting. Of course, you always think that the perfect spring is around the corner. This one does actually look like it's setting up to where we can start to plant pretty early. I’m sure we'll have some unexpected conditions thrown our way throughout the year, but right now, we're pretty bullish.”

— Steve Sterchi, Head of Product Strategy, Syngenta North America

At the 2024 Commodity Classic show in Houston, extreme weather conditions were on many no-tillers’ minds as they thought ahead to planting season. 

In this episode of the No-Till Farmer podcast, brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment, managing editor Michaela Paukner talks to 9 growers about their expectations and preparations for the 2024 planting season.

Related Content

Yetter Farm Equipment

No-Till Farmer's podcast series is brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment.

More from this series

Yetter Farm Equipment has been providing farmers with residue management, fertilizer placement, and seedbed preparation solutions since 1930. Today, Yetter equipment is your answer for success in the face of ever-changing production agriculture challenges. Yetter offers a full lineup of planter attachments designed to perform in varying planting conditions, multiple options for precision fertilizer placement, strip-till units, and stalk rollers for your combine. Yetter products maximize your inputs, save you time, and deliver return on your investment. Visit them at


Full Transcript

Michaela Paukner:

Welcome to the No-Till Farmer podcast, brought to you by Yetter Farm Equipment. I'm Michaela Paukner, managing editor at No-Till Farmer. Earlier this month, I went to Commodity Classic in Houston, and asked the no-tillers who I met, what they were expecting for the 2024 planting season. Today's episode is a compilation of those nine conversations.

Kyle Hawkins:

I'm Kyle Hawkins from Bogard, Missouri. I am a row crop farmer. I farm corn, beans and wheat. We row crop 5, 6,000 acres of soybeans and 5, 6,000 acres of corn, kind depend on the year and fluctuation of what percentage is what. We've got very small wheat acres, 2 or 300 a year, just to kind of get the combine out of the shed in the middle of the summer when we need to be at the lake. But on our no-till to minimal till practices, we're about a third to two-thirds, a third being minimal till, two-thirds being no-till.

A lot of that is on our early crops, early seasons, our ground temperatures are really cold, so we like to make a pass over it with a field cultivator to warm that soil up, level it up so we can get started planting earlier. Allows the temperature of the land to warm up soil, so we can get that crop up and going early as we can to maximize our yield potential, especially in our bean crop. We run a small dozer operation, terrace building, lakes, whatnot, just to try to do soil management practices. That's why we plant wheat, so we can build terraces in the summer, do all those kind of things to minimize erosion and to do the things right as far as soil health and whatnot. We're looking at planting around 7,000 acres of soybeans, and we will probably minimal till I would say 1500 of that to 2000, and the rest will be no-till.

On our corn side, we're more minimal till, field cultivator pass right after we apply fertilizer. So 5,500 acres of that will be a minimal till to late season no-till pass. Depends on the farm, I mean, how steep the farms are. I mean, everything, we try to do everything right the best we can anyway. I don't know if anybody's right. But so, we've got some ground that is just strictly no-till for erosion purposes and stuff like that. So I would say that's kind of where we're at going into '24 here. So we're the end of February here, and we are very dry. Going into March, I think March is going to come in like a lamb, and they say maybe go out like a lion, so who knows? But we're going to need to get caught up on soil moisture.

Subsoily, we're not good. I don't think that we could sustain another year. We had last year. We had very spotty rains if you got anything, and then the next day, we're hot and dry, winds blowing. So going into this '24 year growing season, it's going to be a crapshoot on what we're going to get. Right now, I don't feel ... I mean, I'm optimistic, as we always are, but I'm not strongly convinced that we've seen a pattern change in our weather at home. I feel like that we're kind of right on pace as last year. So last year in '23, we had yields from as bad as 2012 to as good as 2020, 2021 yields that we had. So we was just all over the board. And it gets frustrating, after a while, of this flexibility. It rained over here, but it didn't over there.

But going into '24, I mean, it's going to be challenging. I mean, with our commodity market sinking off the way they are, and with that overall drought lingering in the back of your mind. But, of course, they always say if you live in the Midwest, just wait a day, and the weather will change. I mean, we've seen that, flying down here to Commodity Classic, it was 75 on Tuesday, and Tuesday night going in Wednesday, when we flew out, it was 19 and snowed, so who knows what we're going to get? But we're optimistic. So we started in 2020 doing early planting soybeans. 1st of April, we go out there and we planting.

And I will say that it was a battle to get my dad on board with this. And some things, if you're getting the planter ready, you just have to pull it out of the shed and throw some seed in it, and go plant it, and, "It's already planted, Dad."

So that's what we did in 2020, and we had really good yield results out of that. We had 37 acres that averaged 101, a little over 0.62 bushel on 37 acres. And it was kind of a shock and awe thing because, at home, we've never had that kind of, especially fuel average.

I mean, it wasn't a lot of acres, but it was enough to give you an idea that said, "Hey, we can potentially have something good going here." And so, as the years went along, I mean, we've hit nineties, eighties. Depends on the weather early. But planting soybeans early has been, and we do some other microbial stuff with another company that I think gives us a pop. So this last year, in 2023, we entered the Go for the Gold with Golden Harvest, and we had to do an acre and a half plot sample, and we had 103.5, Pushing 104 bushel on that acre and a half. I think that overall field averaged like 90 something. That was on 65 acres. But given our condition this year, if you had any trees around, it was so dry, you had a lot of things that brought down the overall average of the farm. But it was really extremely happy with getting ... To win this-

April Hemis:

I'm April Hemis. I'm a farmer from north-central Iowa. I farm soybeans and corn. I no-till all my soybeans, and around a fourth of my corn, I can no-till, on my lighter soils. I really embraced no-tilling, oh, at least 25 or 30 years ago. And so, when I came home to farm in 1985, I'm headed into my 39th year, it was probably in the early nineties, where I was playing around with it, and somebody had a drill, and my grandfather had a fit, because he's, "You can't do that." And I said, "Grandpa, we're going to try it." And then, he just ... There weren't soybeans coming up like every inch like the old days you plant. So then, when he saw how they came up through the corn, how they yielded just as good, if not better, than my conventional till. So it saved the tillage, the soil, and everything else, and made a believer out of him. So if I could convince my grandfather back in the day ... And then, after that, I just never looked back and stayed with no-till.

Well, I have some cover crops that will be going into soybeans. What I do is fly over cereal rye over my corn when it's standing. Now, last year, it was very, very dry when I did that, so not a whole lot came back up. Not as much as I usually do. Usually, I get four to six or eight inches of growth in the fall, and I did in some spots. You could tell where I had moisture and where I didn't. So the termination won't be any different. It just depends on when I can plant. So I'll get out there and terminate the crop. What I do is spray with Roundup to kill it, and then I usually do that the day of. I plant the day before or the day after. That one's pretty easy. But you want to get ... I like to plant into green, so I like that cover crop to still be green when I plant in there. It just goes a lot easier. That's about 200 acres, and it'll go into soybeans.

So the thing I'm most worried about is the lack of moisture. So I'm going into a fourth year of a drought, and that really worries me. And we've had record highs lately in February. My neighbor was out tiling, putting field tile ins, in February. So that's never happened before. So the concern and lack of moisture is top in my mind. But for no tilling, that works pretty good. I'll just set the planter a little bit deeper, and have at her. For soybeans, it's usually around two inches, but I'll probably set it down just a little bit more, depending, because I'm no tilling, so I really want to get that seed-to-soil contact. So I'll put it in there. Corn, it'll be a little bit deeper than that. And it's worked good. When I've tried that before, it's worked good in the drier conditions, just to get it down to moisture.

Steve Wilkins:

I am Steve Wilkins. I work with Syngenta on the Golden Harvest brand, where I manage our agronomy team. I also farm with my parents in southeast Wisconsin. So my family transitioned, as many Wisconsin farms have, from a dairy to a cash grain type operation. So years ago, we would be heavy tillage, we had a lot of manure. And we started to transition probably around 2005 to 2006 into a little bit of no-till. And fast-forward until now, we pretty much transitioned exclusively, where the vast majority of our farm is no-till. And we've done that for a multitude of reasons. You can look at labor savings, machinery savings. There is a time savings as well. We also thought it was the right thing to do from an environment standpoint, sustainability standpoint, and we're in an area where we actually benefited significantly from yield from adopting no-till practices as well.

Steve Sturkey:

So I'm Steve Sturkey, head of product strategy for Syngenta North America, and actually have a farm in southern Illinois. Where we're at right now, we still do have a lot of conventional tillage that is part of our practices that we've incorporated in now. Of course, depending on the crop and what we have in there, we do more no-till, of course, on our double crop and as well as our soybeans. But for the most part, we're still conventional till. We have a lot of those heavy clays in that area too, so there's just some challenges that come along with it in our area.

Steve Wilkins:

So for this year, we're sitting here, end of February, beginning of March, and it appears as if it's going to be in early spring, which will be good. On top of that, we had a really good fall last year, so we're expecting an earlier spring, and right now, it looks like it'll be favorable conditions.

Steve Sturkey:

Yeah, of course you set here, and you always think that the perfect spring is around the corner. This one does actually look like it's setting up to where we can start to plant pretty early, and get in there, and maybe go through. Now, we'll have some unexpected, I'm sure, get thrown our way throughout the year. But as we sit and start to look at right now, we're pretty bullish about what this looks like.

Steve Wilkins:

Now, as we find ourselves here in 2024, commodity prices have really come down a lot, so I think growers will be a lot more conscious about cutting costs. And for some people, they might look at reduced tillage as a means to save some equipment, some time, some labor, and help make them more profitable. But we do have a lot of customers that no-till, and one of the things we do on our agronomy side is we work with them, and we make sure that if they're in a no-till practice, we match our practices with theirs to help them be more successful.

One of the key things, if you're a no-till farmer, you really want to be looking at, is it's likely when you're planting in spring, your soils might be a little bit cooler, might be a little bit wetter, so we really put a strong emphasis, on what is our early season genetics like in terms of emergence, early season vigor? So from our research team, they put a lot of effort into making sure we know and we understand and we accurately can score what those key quality components are to help no-till growers get off to a really good start.

As a commercial grower, you need that information, and you need to basically understand your farm and what those key parameters are, and I think that's a nice area to work with. I think there's a second component here, when you look at no-till situations, sometimes you can put yourself into in situation where you've got more weeds, and then you could have a more diverse insect population. So we've got products specific that are trait Viptera, which really, really helps reduce tillage situations. So we not only are looking at the agronomic things, but also the traits and we can marry them up and give them to a grower.

Steve Sturkey:

And if you think about Syngenta, you think about Golden Harvest and what we bring to the table through the agronomic research that Steve talks about. We take a lot of pride in making sure that we have the right information available when we launch products into the marketplace. And then, also, like Steve said, some of our trait packages that come along with those genetics that we launch in really match up well to what's needed in those particular areas. And so, that's what we're very focused and aware of, and trying to increase the genetics that we have with those traits as well, has been a big part of what we've tried to do over the last couple of years. And this year, with the product class that we just launched, we feel we've made a lot of strides in making sure that Viptera trait that Steve talked about is part of the majority of the genetics that we bring to the marketplace, which is going to be key and going to have a real impact on our no-till farmers as well as all farmers. And so, that that's pretty key to match up as well.

Steve Wilkins:

I think we have a good growing season ahead of us. It's been a different type of a winter, warm, cold, snow, adverse weather. I mean, my gosh, it was seventies and eighties in a lot of the core corn belt here this week. And a little bit cooler now, but I think as we look at the year ahead, we're probably into some extremes. But I'm optimistic about the year. Farmers have done a great job of what I call weather-proofing their farms over the years. Agronomists have really helped get them to that point, so I think we're able to withstand a lot of challenges. We saw some of that last year. Not too many people were expecting record yields coming out of 2023, so that, I think, our growers and our agronomists continue to learn, adapt. So I'm pretty optimistic about the year and the years ahead for us with production agriculture.

Michaela Paukner:

I'd like to take a moment to thank our sponsor, Yetter Farm Equipment. Yetter is your answer for success in the face of ever-changing production agriculture challenges, Yetter offers a full lineup of planter attachments designed to perform in varying planting conditions. Yetter products maximize your inputs, save you time, and deliver return on your investment. Visit them at That's

Jim Douglas:

I am Jim Douglas from Shelbyville, Indiana, and we no-till probably 80% of our soybeans and 60% of our corn. We have livestock there in hogs, and so we put on a lot of manure. And therefore, we work the ground for that application of manure. It is for the corn acres. And then we tile ditch some, and after we do the tile ditching, we'll typically work that or making a pattern to get through, and tile in all the farms. So that comes up to about that percentage. We're going into the spring extremely dry, and other than that, everything seems normal. But extremely dry. That could change in a minute, you know what I mean? But right now, when you look past the planting season, it looks like we possibly could be really short on moisture. And here it is, in February, and we've had some 70 degree days. Just not normal.

You can't do anything for dry weather. But it would be an early planting season with these kind of temperatures and dryness. The crop will go in potentially a month early. It reminds me of 2012. Our cover crop did not get established last fall, and see a tent of it this spring. It was so dry last fall, we didn't get stands. So a lot of times, that'll germinate through the winter and springtime, but we've had a dry winter, and I don't know just what we're going to end up with. But yes, we would plant right into that.

The number one benefit that you can see instantly is erosion control on a cover crop situation. Undoubtedly, soil health is down the road, but erosion control is immediate. From now on, this next year, we will mechanically seed the crop. We've been aerial seeding it, and a little more variable on the stand. But this fall, and going forward, we're going to mechanically seed the crop. That's our plan.

Brad Weaver:

I am Brad Weaver. I farm in northwest Ohio. We live in upper Sandusky, Ohio. We grow corn, soybeans. And wheat. We strip till in the spring and the fall, we strip till all of our corn acres, so we strip till about 900 acres a year. And we do a fall pass of P and K variable rated. And then, in the spring, we come back with some AMS and micros, just to get some nitrogen out before the planter. And it's a lot easier to ... It's a lot cheaper to use a dry micro than a wet one, so that's an advantage that we've seen. And moving forward, starting in '25, we will be 100% strip till and strip till our beans as well.

John Hanson:

I'm John Hanson. North-central Iowa is where I farm, corn and beans. We do 100% strip till in the spring as of right now. We make the strips for the corn. I plant beans, actually, with a SoilWarrior in the spring. It's like you're putting fertilizer down, you want to do so many pounds per acre you want to put down for fertilizer. You do the same way with the beans. You see, just put the beans on right back there. You kind of angle the tube back a little bit, and let the dirt cover it up, and then you're done. So it saves a lot of time on fuel. You don't have to rip, you don't have to field cultivate or nothing. We just one pass, and we're out of the field, and it grows.

Michaela Paukner:

Oh, what kind of planting population do you use for doing that?

John Hanson:

We're at 150 still. We kind of bumped it up this year a little bit because sometimes, it depends on how wet or dry the spring is. A wet spring, they'll come up. But dry, they'll try and grow, and then they'll kind of peter out. But a lot of times, if it's a wet spring, works out perfect. So this year, we did it this year, and it worked pretty well for us this year. So good yields. Us and the neighbors were all in the same yield range of each other, so no yield lost what we did, and we only did one pass.

Michaela Paukner:

Looking towards planting, are there any issues you're prepared for or thinking about with planting in 2020 over?

Brad Weaver:

We've had a mild winter. We have had a lot of snow, but we've had a decent amount of precipitation. So water-wise, I think we're sitting very good with our water table right now. In Ohio, it just depends on the weather. We might be able to start planting April 10th, or it might be May 10th. So that four week spell, I mean, is very iffy. I mean, we either going to have a nice relaxing spring or by the time May 10th comes around, it's go go go go as fast as we can. So that's what we like about fall stripping, is we have that our P and K is already out there, so we can go and plant if we want to. We don't have to come back and strip. That's why we try to get as much done in the fall as we can.

John Hanson:

Yeah, we like to get in whenever we, early as we can. With us, we had a mild winter too. We had some snow. It's all melted now. So hopefully, they're talking there's maybe seventies next week. Maybe we'll go on a strip next week, and we'll do our dry and our urea, start our urea, about 30 pounds of urea, and then we do a sulfur product, AMS or something. We throw it all in there at the same time. And then, we'll strip all our acres, then we'll go back and plant our corn whenever. After April 11th, we can plant. So whenever around that date as fit, we'll go in there and just plant it all, and move to beans.

Michaela Paukner:

John, how much time do you leave between making the strips and planting?

John Hanson:

Typically, you always say like three or four hours, but it depends on how dry the situations are. And like our planter, we took the trash cleaners off, the row cleaners off on our planter, because then, the dry dirt's on top, and you flick off all that dry dirt, and it makes it a little muddier. So we take ours off, and we can probably plant probably an hour or two after, with that sun hitting those black strips.

Brad Weaver:

For us, in the spring, we like to get a rain on it. I mean, we like to get a little bit of crust on there. It kind of holds the planter row unit up a little bit better, and we can get a little better ... Our seeding depth is more consistent after rain, but, I mean, we've chased a strip tiller out of the field. We've come back two weeks later. We've came back a month later. So with strip tilling we have a lot of options, and I think that's one of the benefits of strip tilling, especially doing a fall strip till as well. If we have to come back and plant because the weather hasn't cooperated, we can do that. So our options are wide open, and that's kind of one of the benefits of strip tilling.

Michaela Paukner:

Do either of you strip till in the cover crops?

Brad Weaver:

Yes, we have. We've planted cover crops on fifteens, and we've been able to strip in between the cover crops. We've broadcasted some cover crops and stripped into them. It just depends on the year on how the growth is. I mean, the taller the cover crop is, the ... You have more challenges sometimes, making a good strip. So we've stripped in the green, we've killed our cover crops and stripped into them. That's one nice thing about having the Coulter unit. We have a lot of different options to go through things. We can change blades if we need to be more aggressive in that kind of stuff, though. It's a different challenge, but one that we've been able to handle quite well with the diversity of our machine.

Jake Droz:

I'm Jake Droz from Allegan, Michigan, which is by Kalamazoo, and I farm with my brother and my dad in a partnership, and we farm about 8,200 acres of corn, soybeans and a little bit of milo. And yeah, mainly irrigated corn on corn.

We usually, on any given year, 2000 to 2,500 acres of soybeans. We're mainly conventional till or chisel plow, ripper, stuff like that, only because of Lake Michigan, the weather, we live so close to Lake Michigan that the weather affects us, and it makes no-till a lot tougher for our operation on our ground that we farm. We do about anywhere from 600 to 900 acres of no-till on any given year. If the practice, if we didn't actually believe in it, I mean we wouldn't keep trying it. Obviously, there's a lot of benefits to it. We just have not been able to make it work on our good acres quite yet.

Michaela Paukner:

So looking ahead to 2024 planting season, what are you expecting in your area?

Jake Droz:

Honestly, we are preparing for prevent plant. You don't want to, but it's just the way that the winter and the spring are shaping up. I'm a little nervous that we're going to have some prevent plant just because October, November, this winter has just been off-the-charts wet. We just got two inches of rain last night, and so that'll put us out for another month or two now. Yeah, unfortunately, in our area, the problem we usually have every year is too much moisture. What we do to kind of help that is, well, we farm quite a bit of sand, we do a lot of waiting, and we do have quite a bit of drainage tile. So we obviously utilize that, and that helps quite a bit. Hasn't raised our yields any, I'm not really sure why, but at least now, we can get across the field.

Steve Reinhardt:

Steve Reinhardt. I farm in north-central Ohio. We've farmed about 1400 acres, and usually anywhere from 25% to 50% will be no-till. We usually no-till our soybeans in after our corn the previous year, and that seems to work really nice. It leaves a lot mulch on top of the field, and it helps with water retention, because we get less sunlight directly on the soil itself, so that helps retain water for our soybean plants to grow. One of the big concerns we have is weed pressure. And sometimes, because the corn fodder is a little heavier, we'll get less of a weed pressure from that situation. Sometimes, we will no-till corn into soybean stubble. But one of the biggest concerns there is, a lot of times, the soybean stubble doesn't keep the ground as covered, and so it gives an opportunity for those early weeds to get started, and sometimes that creates kind of a barrier for us to get through.

So we'll use some minimum till. So we have a vertical tillage tool that we'll use a lot in corn especially, because we'll use urea product, a little bit of urea to get the corn started. And when we do that, we use the vertical tillage tool to help incorporate that urea into the field. And then, we'll also use some cover crops, and depending on what method or type of cover crop we use, that could either be no-tilled, or we may even do a full conventional tillage on that cover crop. Probably not a moldboard plow. We may make more than one pass with some sort of vertical tillage-type application.

The biggest concern is making sure that we have a dry seedbed, and then a warm seedbed. And usually, those are acres we're going to plant towards the end of the planting season. However, last year, we found out that if we planted early in April, we actually had our best planting window in April a year ago. We've had a pretty warm winter so far, not a lot of moisture, but we have had almost no snow. So actually, going into the end of February, we're actually pretty warm at this point, so that would lead us to believe that we'll probably have an earlier spring than normal. And if we have that chance to get out there in April, we'll probably start planting even those no-till acres if the ground is fit, and at least we have an opportunity for it to warm up then after that.

Michaela Paukner:

Thanks to all the farmers who talked with me at Commodity Classic for today's conversation. A transcript for this episode is available at Let me know what you're expecting this planting season by sending me an email or leaving a comment on our website or social media pages. You'll find more stories and videos from my trip to Commodity Classic there as well. Many thanks to Yetter Farm Equipment for helping to make this No-Till podcast series possible. From all of us here at No-Till Farmer, I'm Michaela Paukner. Thanks for listening.