Take a close look at the corn stand in the picture with this article. Is the stand perfect, with every seedling properly and evenly spaced away from its neighbor? Probably not, but the spacing is darn close to perfect!
Corn Illustrated 5/19: Midwest crop progress begins to vary, depending on rain patterns
The message here is that the field was no-tilled. Winter annuals were burned down with herbicide and then the farmer planted into the soybean stubble left from last fall. He didn't use a cover crop here. This field is fairly level.
The stand isn't near perfect because it's a no-till field. The point is that being a no-till field doesn't keep it from being a near perfect stand.
The stand is good because of what the farmer does in the off season. He takes the units off the 24-row planter each winter, and has them tested on test stands. A local farmer also operates a Meter Max test stand and does repair of units when needed as a side business.
The only thing this farmer doesn't do is have the exact seed he will plant be used in the tests on the stand. Some people do that, and it works for air planters because you can fine-tune adjustments. However, to make it work right, you need to test each lot of seed, not just each variety, or each size kernel of each variety.
Even two lots of medium rounds of the same variety may not plant the same. Running both through the test stand would allow the operator of the test stand to determine how to adjust the air system settings to get as close to perfect of performance as possible
Corn Illustrated 5/12: It's a great time to compare planting depth vs. emergence
If you have lots of acres and plant several different hybrids from various seed lots, that can be time consuming. However, there are consultants with mobile vans set up just to go farm to farm in late winter and run those kinds of tests. If your stand isn't as good as this one this year, you might want to consider that for next year.
For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.