Boost Plant Populations to Reach that 300-Bushel Goal

March 4, 2013 09:32 PM

After last summer, a lot of farmers are asking David Thompson whether they should stick with the same corn plant populations in 2013.

His perspective: "Yes, keep those plant populations up. You want to plan for average conditions this season, not a worst-case scenario," he advises.

Along with that, Thompson, the national marketing and sales director for Iowa-based Stine Seed Company, says corn growers who are reaching for the 300-bushel mark will need to start increasing their plant populations on an incremental basis.

"You’ll need to evaluate your hybrids for the ones suitable for high populations and bump them up 10% or so to see how they do. Experiment with them a bit," he says.

Thompson adds that as new genetics are developed, that 300-bushel yield mark will become within reach of more corn growers.

Thompson says Stine Seed Company mapped out hybrid corn yield averages between the 1930s and 2012 and found a direct relationship between yield results and plant populations used over time.

"In the 1930s, when we started with hybrid corn, the average yield was 40 bushels with an average plant population of 7,000. Today 200 bushels are typical with an average plant population of 35,000," he explains.

Based on company research, he says that means corn yields and populations have gone up by a factor of about five.

"If you subscribe to that theory, then everyone who wants to raise 300-bushel corn will need to plant at least 56,000 plants per acre. You can’t do it otherwise," Thompson says.

Farm Journal caught up with Thompson to get his perspective on achieving higher yields this week during the 2013 Commodity Classic in Orlando. Listen here to learn more details about how Stine Seed Company is developing new corn hybrids to help farmers boost yields.


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