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Five rules for corn following corn

Agriculture.com Staff 01/26/2007 @ 6:35am

Many Midwest farmers say they're going to plant more corn this year, and that means some ground will be planted to corn that was corn last year.

That will bring some challenges, says Iowa State University Extension corn specialist Roger Elmore. He summarized the production considerations of corn following corn at the Iowa State Crop Advantage Series workshop this week.

  1. Yields will go down when you plant corn following corn.
    Elmore looked at 26 studies of this, and only two (both in Indiana) showed a yield gain compared to corn following soybeans. The average yield loss on second year corn is about nine percent, with a range of five to 15%. The yield loss is even higher in high-yield environments. Yield reductions in continuous corn tend to level off after the second or third years, but they never pop back to the yields of a corn-soybean rotation.

  2. You can mitigate some of the yield loss by planting Bt hybrids with the corn rootworm trait.
    Rootworm proliferation in a corn following corn environment likely explains some of the yield loss. Illinois studies showed a big advantage to the rootworm resistant hybrids in corn following corn. If you can't get the hybrids you want, chemical programs to hold rootworms in check may do as well, says Elmore.

  3. Corn following corn may mean you are planting into higher residue situations if you practice reduced tillage.
    Those soils may be slower to warm up this spring, and they may stay wetter. It makes sense to plant hybrids that have superior early stress tolera: Seedling vigor, root health, insect resistance.

  4. Also because of the residue and cold/wet soils, it may make sense to plant corn following corn acres last.

  5. We tend to get better germination rates and stands in corn following soybeans than corn following corn.
    That's why you may want to bump seeding rates by 1,000 to 2,000 seeds per acre in corn following corn.

"It would be nice if there was a silver bullet that would solve all of the management issues [of corn following corn]," says Elmore. "There's not."

Many Midwest farmers say they're going to plant more corn this year, and that means some ground will be planted to corn that was corn last year.

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