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Corn-production tips

Gil Gullickson 03/21/2012 @ 11:27am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Looking to snap up your corn yields for 2012? Here are some factors to consider for this year and beyond.

Carefully pick hybrids

University of Minnesota (U of M) trials from 2007 to 2011 showed 60- to 90-bushel differences between the highest- and lowest-yielding hybrids.

“No other agronomic practice influences yield as much,” says Jeff Coulter, U of M Extension agronomist.

Longer-maturing hybrids yield more than shorter-maturing ones because they produce more kernels. U of M scientists compared three maturity groups at three southern Minnesota sites from 2006 to 2010. The late-maturing group of 103- to 107-day hybrids had a 5% yield edge on the 93- to 97-day hybrids. Meanwhile, the yields of 98- to 102-day hybrids edged those of the 93- to 97-day hybrids by 2%.

Still, yield difference is not sizeable when compared with the huge gap between hybrids in the 2007 to 2011 study. What yield edge you do glean is tempered by increased harvest moisture, says Coulter. Harvest moisture for 93- to 97-day hybrids was 17.2%, 18.4% for 98- to 102-day hybrids, and 20.2% for 103- to 107-day hybrids.

Planting delays

Timely planting is essential for top yields. Still, don't sweat it if short delays result. The wait for better soil conditions may be worth it.
In southern Minnesota, the best time to plant corn is between April 21 to May 6, says Coulter. Still, U of M trials show yields for corn planted in mid-May rivaled mid-April plantings. Averages from 2008 to 2010 at two sites found just a 2% yield loss for corn planted in mid-May compared to late April.

Yields started slipping when planting was delayed beyond mid-May. Yields were 15% of what they were for corn planted in late April.

“There is little yield loss when planting is delayed until mid-May,” says Coulter. “There is rapid yield loss when planting is delayed beyond mid-May.

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