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Steve Ford says he owes it to himself to take a closer look at high-population narrow-row corn based on limited experience with the practice his farm in 2013.
“I am not a big risk-taker, but if you could return an extra $150 to $200/acre, you have to look at it,” he says. “At $4 corn, if it is worth 50 bushels/acre, it would be about a five-year payback on specialized equipment.”
He plans to keep the cost of continuing to test high-population narrow-row corn to a minimum. He will double plant with his 30-inch planter and harvest with a soybean platform in 2014.
“I am not convinced this is the future at this point,” he says. “I have to test it on my farm, in my conditions, and my methods.”
Corn planted in 12-inch rows on the left and 20-inch rows on the right highlights how in-row spacing differences could help boost yields in high-population production systems.
In addition to farmer field trials, Stine Seed conducted trials in 2013 comparing six of its high-population hybrids at four seeding rates (34,000, 43,000, 51,000 and 60,000) and two rows widths (20 and 12 inches) at multiple locations.
In 12-inch rows, the highest populations were the yield winners with four of the six hybrids, The 51,000 seeding rate won or tied with the highest population in the other two face-offs. Winning yields ranged from 225 to 250 bushels/acre.
Thompson acknowledges that adoption of high-population narrow-row corn faces many challenges, including availability of suitable hybrids, planting and harvesting equipment. “Our goal is to demonstrate what is possible,” he says. “We think we are moving this conversation forward.”
In 2014, Stine plans to continue its demonstration program. It also will provide a portion of cooperating farmers’ seed on fields planted to select hybrids at seeding rates above 38,000 and in rows 20 inches wide and narrower.