Researchers at DuPont Pioneer have pointed to maximizing ears per acre in order to reach the highest corn yields.
“The key components of yield are ears per acre, kernels per ear and kernel weight,” says Scott Nelson, DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager. “Of these factors, ears per acre have the most impact on total yields.”
Genetic improvement of corn hybrids for superior stress tolerance has contributed to increased yields by allowing hybrids to be planted at higher plant populations. During high-stress growing seasons, corn plants still produce ears, although they may be somewhat smaller. In favorable weather, higher plant populations produce more ears and higher yields.
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Even during less-than-ideal weather, today’s hybrids maintain a more stable shedding-to-silking interval, which leads to better pollination of all the ears in the field.
“While kernels per ear and kernel weight are important, the name of the game for increasing yields is more ears per acre,” Nelson says. “We’re working to help growers get consistent yields in stressful environments while maintaining the ability to achieve outstanding yields in ideal environments.”
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