Twin-row corn production looks attractive in theory, but the actual yield payoff still varies from farm to farm, reports Peter Thomison, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension corn agronomist.
Last year, Ohio Extension, in partnership with Purdue University and University of Nebraska, compared twin-row corn production to traditional 30” rows. Twin-row corn is planted 7” or 8” apart on 30” centers.
Research results from the three states indicated no clear yield advantage currently for farmers using twin rows.
"The yield advantage, when it did occur, was usually less than 3 bu. per acre," says Thomison in the April 27, 2010, edition of Ag Answers, an online publication produced in cooperation between OSU and Purdue.
That yield average is considerably less than what Farm Journal Test Plots have demonstrated during the past decade. In replicated plots, narrow-row corn in both twin and 20” rows have outyielded corn in 30” rows, with an average yield gain of 7 bu. to 10 bu. per acre.
According to Farm Journal research, the row spacings produce similar ear counts, but twin and 20” rows pick up extra yield through better tip fill and deeper kernel depth.
This season, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer is evaluating four twin-row corn plots, replicated three times each, in Michigan and Ohio. Plant populations in the plots vary from a low of 28,000 per acre to a high of 42,000 per acre.
"With the continued improvements in corn genetics, twin rows may be the way to go in a few years,” Bauer says.
She explains that farmers can boost plant populations in their fields using twin rows because they provide corn plants with more growing space than traditional 30” rows. With twin rows, farmers also usually see an earlier crop canopy, which helps minimize weed pressure and retain soil moisture.
Another benefit is that farmers can use their current equipment in twin-row corn to sidedress nitrogen and harvest, much as they would with traditional row spacings.
Farmers can learn more about Bauer's 2010 twin-row research in this video:
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