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Shift corn seeding rate based on field potential
One of the oldest debates in corn production is this: How many corn seeds per acre should I plant?
Golden Harvest, in its 2020 Agronomy in Action Research Review, attempts to shed some light on the subject. As you might suspect, the answer is: It depends.
“If you base your seeding rate on what you were doing 10 years ago, you’re behind. Genetics have changed,” says Bruce Battles, technical agronomy manager with Golden Harvest. He cited this research while unveiling the 2020 Agronomy in Action at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.
According to Battles, USDA-NASS research presented in Agronomy in Action shows that farmers tend to plant many more corn seeds per acre now (26,000 per acre across the U.S. 2019) compared with 21,000 seeds per acre in 1980. At the same time, yields have increased over that time too – to 170 bushels per acre now, vs. 100 bushels per acre in 1980.
Simply, planting population “…is something farmers need to continue to look at,” he explains.
An article in the 2020 Agronomy in Action says there are three factors that force a response to corn planting population:
- Yield environment. As yield potential increases, planting population should increase too. The yield hit taken from incorrect seeding rate increases with yield environments. “Let’s look at yield maps the last five or six years, and find the highs and lows of the field,” Battles explains. “We’re really trying to dial in and say if you’re in that 180-bushel-per-acre yield environment, this is the population you should have.”
- Hybrid response. Some corn hybrids respond differently to an increased or decreased seeding rate than others. “After we look at the yield environment, let’s take a look at it from a hybrid specific level. Planting rate will go up or down based on our knowledge of the hybrid,” he adds. Golden Harvest offers a seeding rate response to each of its hybrids; that information can be found in the article.
- Economic factors. Optimal seeding rate will fluctuate with commodity prices, Battles says. If the market price for corn is relatively high, seeding rate should be boosted. If it’s low, seeding rates should decrease proportionally. “If corn is $7 per bushel, you should be planting a different seeding rate than $3 corn. It’s the same for the unit bag price of corn. There’s a different answer if you’re paying $50 per unit vs. $300 per unit,” he says.
Battles adds that Golden Harvest dealers are using E-Luminate, a digital tool exclusive to the company, to help growers match hybrids and build seed rate prescriptions for individual fields.
2020 Agronomy in Action
The corn seed rate research is one of 30 articles in the 2020 Agronomy in Action, which is the first such publication from Golden Harvest.
The 100-page guide highlights some of the company’s agronomic research, a longtime focus of Golden Harvest leadership. It is available online at Agronomy in Action 2020 Research Review, or hard copies are available at dealers.
- Read More: Commodity Classic 2020 in review
The book is organized into seven sections:
- Corn Development and Management
- Corn Insect and Disease Management
- Soybean Development and Management
- Soybean Insect and Disease Management
- Harvest Management
- Fertility Management
- General Management
Agronomy in Action research sites are set up at 80 locations across the Corn Belt to provide localized research studies and applicable findings.
When it comes to agronomy, there’s also a lot to consider: “What’s the disease risk of this specific hybrid? How do I manage white mold in soybeans? What do I do if my soil pH is above average?” The Agronomy in Action 2020 Research Review helps farmers find answers to these questions so they can effectively manage the season ahead.
“The delayed and drawn out planting season last year created challenges for managing crop growth and development and weed, disease and insect control,” says Andy Heggenstaller, Syngenta Seeds head of agronomy.
“As we head into 2020 planting, many, if not most farmers are going to have to rethink or adjust their management practices. The Agronomy in Action 2020 Research Review covers topics from seeding rates to nitrogen management and everything in between, so that we’re able to offer solutions to the problems farmers are facing.”