The narrow-system really makes combining corn easier, Steve Parker says. “You don’t have to follow the rows when you combine corn, and you could even cut it diagonally to the rows if you had to do it,” he adds.

David Parker says it helps at harvest time that their corn fields are clean. “I have no doubt our fields are cleaner now than they used to be when we planted in 30-inch row spacings.

“It looks like the corn starts off slow, then boom — it takes off and it looks like the ground is covered quicker than we used to see with wider row spacings,” he adds.

The brothers agree that the quicker row coverage helps with weed and grass control. “Once our corn gets up and growing, I’m sure we spray it less than we used to with 30-inch spacings,”  David Parker says.

As for their soybean crop, the Parker brothers say the convenience of planting both crops on the same row spacings and with the same equipment is a bonus. They say there appears to be little difference in soybean yields between the two row spacings in their farming operation, and certainly not enough leave the convenience they have with the 15-inch row settings.

Being in a grain deficit region, grain growers in the Southeast have two-fold reason to increase corn yields—to keep themselves in business and too keep their best customers—area livestock producers—in business.

Nationwide the results on 15 versus 30 inch row spacings for corn are inconsistent, but generally show some advantage for the narrow spacings, regardless of the soil type, hybrid planted or other farming practices. How much of a yield increase has shown to be highly variable from year to year and from state to state.

For North Carolina growers David and Steve Parker there is no doubt the narrow-row spacings are better. Some solid support comes from Francis Childs, a corn farmer in Manchester, Iowa, who produced 441 bushels of corn per acre using 20-inch row spacings.

rroberson@farmpress.com

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