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Will twin-row corn work for you?

Jeff Caldwell 12/14/2010 @ 11:10am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Have you had success with narrow-row corn? If so, maybe twin-row corn's for you. But, do your homework before you switch to the production system, agronomists advise.

Environment, past production practices and crop yield performance all share equally large roles in clearing up whether twin-row will work on your farm in the future, according to Pioneer agronomy research manager Mark Jeschke. A lot of the first factor is regional.

"The most promising applications for twin-row corn appear to be in scenarios where narrow rows have been most successful, such as the northern Corn Belt and in silage production, as well as in southern wide-row systems," Jeschke says.

Fields in "yield-limiting" environments where either light, water or fertility are in short supply, are the most likely candidates for twin-row systems, Jeschke says. Conversely, if those resources are readily available all the time, twin-row may not be for you.

"In environments limited by availability of light, water or fertility, a more equidistant plant configuration should be more efficient in capturing these resources and increasing yield," Jeschke says. "Narrow or twin rows, then, would have less advantage in an optimal environment where all resources are available in abundance. Yet narrow and twin rows also have been promoted as a way to increase yield in extremely productive environments where all other yield-limiting factors have been adequately mitigated."

One situation where twin-row may be the best fit is in the mid-South and Delta, where wider row spacings are more common. When planted on 38-inch or wider row centers, Jeschke says twin-row can pay off to the tune of around 10 bushels per acre.

"Yield response to twin-row soybean has been consistently positive on wide centers, which may make a twin-row corn/soybean system a favorable option for growers wanting to use the same planter for both crops," he says.

See more from Jeschke on twin-row systems

An added benefit of twin-row corn is how it handles some adverse weather conditions, according to a report from Monsanto's Janice Person.

"The stalks are bigger around which helps with standability in the wind out here. We had some weed control issues before we went to twin-row, but this lets us canopy (when the leaves touch each other) one week earlier and Roundup Ready corn weed control is easier," Nebraska farmer Mark McHargue says in a report from Person. "We also have positive yield responses but they can vary from 5% to 10%  depending on the growing season."

See more from Person, including video comments from McHargue

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