Corn Planting Rate Research & Recs


Even with recent rain and snow events, the subsoil is still dry.  You may be wondering,

“What should I do regarding corn planting rates in 2013?”

A few weeks ago, UNL Extension held our on-farm research meetings to share our 2012 Corn Planting Rate results for irrigated and dryland conditions.  I always enjoy hearing our farmers share why they were interested in a certain trial and what they found out as a result.

Our farmers followed protocols of 28K, 32K, 36K, 40K (40,000 seeds/acre) or 30K, 34K, 38K, 42K/acre for irrigated production and 18K, 22K, 26K, and 30K for dryland production. 2012 Irrigated On-farm Corn Population Study-UNL

The results since 2010 continue to show us that each individual hybrid varies in its response to increasing populations; however, there is a general trend with newer hybrids that increasing population results in increased yields.  Dr. Tom Hoegemeyer, UNL Agronomy Professor of Practice spoke about how our hybrids have genetically come so far in combating various stresses while maintaining yields.  We know that many seed companies have conducted research to determine the population calibration curve for each hybrid to determine best recommendations for you.  Thus, we’d recommend that you check with your seed dealer to determine which hybrid may fit best at which population for your operation.

Even with this data, you may question if that’s truly the best population for your field; that’s where on-farm research comes in!  We recommend testing the recommended population against a higher and lower population with at least 4000 seeds/acre difference in planted population-whether irrigated or dryland.  With today’s technologies, it’s not very difficult to test seeding rates for different hybrids for yourself!

So what rate should you plant this year?  In the majority of our irrigated studies, economically, many hybrids maximized yields and economic returns between 32,000-36,0o0 seeds/acre.  Again, this is very hybrid dependent so ask your seed dealer what he/she would recommend and test for yourself!

Regarding limited irrigation, UNL research has actually shown a negative effect of lost yield by backing off population too far in a dry year. 2012 Dryland On-farm Research Corn Population Study-UNL

Tom’s recommendation was for dryland in Eastern Nebraska, most hybrids even with the low soil moisture profile should be ok with planting 24,000-28,000 seeds/acre.  I realize we have essentially no moisture in our profile.  But taking probabilities of rainfall events, March-May is usually pretty good and we don’t want to short-change ourselves in yield by planting too low of populations.  For Central into Western, NE, I feel 20,000-22,000 seeds/acre will work for many hybrids.  Our genetics have come so far since we finished the last drought in 2007 and were planting 18,000 seeds/acre in dryland.  We will just keep praying for rain and hope for the best next year!  Ultimately, test this and your other on-farm questions for yourself to know what will work for your farm!

If you’re interested in conducting some seeding rate trials, please let anyone on our UNL On-Farm Research Team know!  All our studies are posted on the CropWatch on-farm research page.

What planting rates are you considering for 2013?

 

About jenreesources

I'm the Crops and Water Extension Educator for York and Seward counties in Nebraska with a focus in irrigated crop production and plant pathology.

Posted on March 15, 2013, in Crop Updates, Drought, Research and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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