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View from the Cab: Corn yield wonders

(CIFN file photo)

If your New Year’s resolution is to raise high-yielding corn in 2018, I have just the information for you.

There is an opportunity to increase corn yield with better crop management, according to Dr. Fred Below, a plant expert at the University of Illinois.

“It all starts with better plant nutrition,” Below told local farmers attending the BCS annual chemical meeting in December.

The “seven wonders of corn yield” include: weather, nitrogen management, hybrid selection, what the previous crop was, plant population, tillage and growth regulators. The weather after you plant often dictates the success of the planting. Also, every single thing about nitrogen is influenced by weather. The most important decision a farmer makes all year is hybrid selection.

“All hybrids aren’t created equal,” Below explained.

If soybeans were previously grown in a corn field, farmers have a 25-bushel advantage compared with planting corn on corn. Below believes the continuous corn yield penalty gets worse with time due to residue. Below wouldn’t mind seeing farmers increase their seeding rates when planting in the spring.

“Most growers are giving up yield because they’re not planting enough plants.”

During recent years in the United States, the average planting density is just under 32,000 plants per acre. The maximum population farmers can get away with in 30-inch rows is 38,000 plants per acre. Below says the future of corn must be narrow rows in order to manage a higher density of plants.

Growth regulators will likely be the next big story in agriculture, in Below’s opinion. Leaves stay greener thanks to fungicide and this can lead to heavier kernels and a yield increase. Farmers should always follow directions with plant growth regulators.

“You can decrease yield if you don’t use these things correctly,” Below adds.

Hopefully, Dr. Below’s tips will lead to some record corn yields on your farm in 2018. Happy New Year!

(The View from the Cab blog is powered each week by Petersen Motors of Fairbury)

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