How to Plant Crops

Overview

Throughout most of the United States, one or more types of crops grow, creating food for humans and livestock or providing the raw material necessary to produce biofuel or textiles. Agricultural crops include wheat, oats and milo, melons, vegetables, fruit trees and fruit vines, root crops, beans and nuts. Planting crops entails selecting varieties that grow well in your climate and soil type and preparing the soil before planting to improve germination.

Step 1

Choose the right crop for your region. Your local county extension agency can tell you which crops are most likely to succeed in your area. In addition, your local Farm Service Agency will inform you of incentives available for planting specific crops.

Step 2

Prepare the soil by tilling regularly before planting. Seeds need soft, fertile ground in which to germinate and farmers till the soil numerous times in the months before planting. In addition to breaking up large dirt clods, tilling as soon as weeds emerge will destroy the weed roots, reducing the incidence of crop damage from competing weed growth.

Step 3

Install your irrigation system before planting if you're growing a crop that requires constant moisture, such as corn and other vegetables. This isn't necessary in regions that receive adequate rainfall.

Step 4

Sow your crop seeds with a drop seeder or an agricultural drill. Pulled by a tractor, a drop seeder forms rows in the soft earth and deposits small seeds on the surface at a predetermined rate. A drill forms rows as well and is handy for larger seeds, such as corn and soybeans, because the implement digs a small trench and deposits the seed below the surface of the soil and covers it up with soil.

Step 5

Select a no-till drill to overseed a current crop or when erosion is a concern. A no-till drill is useful when a scant perennial crop is in the field, such as alfalfa or brome hay. After cutting the current crop, the farmer pulls the no-till drill over the soil, making small cuts in the earth and depositing new seeds. The rate of germination is substantially less when using no-till drill technology.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid spraying pesticides or herbicides on windy days to prevent overspray that may affect neighboring vegetation.

Things You'll Need

  • Tractor with disc
  • Drop seeder or no-till drill
  • Crop seeds

References

  • NC State University -- Vegetable crop irrigation
  • Research Commodity Crops by Region
  • USDA -- Erosion, Tilling

Who Can Help

  • Find Alternative Crops Suitable in Your Area
  • Locate the USDA Growing Zone for your Region
Keywords: planting crops, farm crops, preparing the soil

About this Author

Based in the Midwest, Glyn Sheridan is a freelance writer with 15 years of writing and editing experience. She's the editor of "Kansas Women - Focus on Fitness." Sheridan holds a degree in marketing from Bauder College, as well as a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.