He points out that the standard treatment was still acceptable, with adequate inputs to grow a good crop of corn. Seeding rate, for example, for the standard system was 33,000 seed per acre. And, the same five popular corn hybrids were used in both systems.

Some of the yields for the intensive management treatments were really good, Heiniger says, revealing several sites with well over 300 bushel per acre yields. Regardless of the site, across the board, the intensive management system produced an average of 48 bushels more per acre than the standard treatment.

The North Carolina State researchers didn’t have universal success with the high intensity management system. In one test one of the very top producing varieties didn’t respond well at all to intensive management.

“The reason, we think, is when we upped the seeding rate the plant population was too high. This variety, simply didn’t respond and our yields were actually better in the standard test plots,” he says.

“This points out an important aspect of creating a corn dynasty — grower awareness of what’s happening to his or her corn crop. In some cases increasing plant populations resulted in a significant yield increase, but in a few cases it went the other way,” Heiniger adds.

At a recent national meeting, Virginia grower and world corn yield record holder David Hula was asked to give one tip for growing high yielding corn.

His response was, “Never ride by a field of corn at 55 mph, with the windows up and the AC on, and say, yep, that’s a good looking field of corn.”

“Be in your field and know what your plants want and give them what they need every day to be as productive as is genetically possible.”

Heiniger has been an advocate of starter fertilizer for a number of years, and says using some of the popular ‘pop-up’ formulations can significantly boost yields, if conditions are right.

“Last year in most of the Upper Southeast we had plenty of moisture early in the growing season. Under these type conditions, get a good starter fertilizer down and get as much growth as you can before moisture plays out. “However, as with each of these high intensive components, the need for grower awareness increases.

“Last year in one of our tests we got no response to starter fertilizer. We didn’t know the complete field history, and when we found out cabbage had been grown in the field the previous year, the reason for lack of response was clear — plenty of fertilizer was left over from the previous crop.”

To keep corn yields high, much less create a corn dynasty, Heiniger says knowledge of the corn plant, the soil and all the inputs used in producing a crop is going to be more critical than ever, but putting all the pieces of the puzzle together can pay off big time over a long period of time for corn growers.

rroberson@farmpress.com

 

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