Driving down a state road, it can be so picturesque to see row after row of a crop in the field. That’s certainly the case right now as young corn, soybean and cotton plants have had a great start with great moisture conditions in so many areas.
But driving down roads in some areas may make you wonder if you are seeing double. That’s because more and more farmers are trying innovative row spacing and planting populations to maximize yields on their farms.
In Dooley County, Georgia Gene Roney says his fields certainly get a second look. He refers to himself as @cottonfarmer on twitter and his twitter name explains by-and-large what Dooley County is all about, but corn has been an increasingly important part of his crop mix in recent years. Gene says of twin-row planting, “We have been doing it for three years. We plant on 38 inch row spacings; with the twin rows on 6-inch spacing.”
He’s busily planting cotton now. He uses the same planters on cotton and corn, so the 38 inch row spacing allows him to keep moving. For his twin-row corn, he uses auto-steer to make a second pass with the 6-inch spacing. He has increased his seeding rate to 33,000 per acre and yields have increased more than 12 percent over single row. He attributes that directly to higher plant population per acre.
The photo above helps you visualize what he’s talking about – he planted his corn April 1.
Miles away in Nebraska, Mark McHargue (@hogs_r_us) raises corn and hogs on his family farm and is wrapping up planting 2010 corn and popcorn.
“We started about 8 years ago when we saw seed population starting to go up. We like using a 36-inch row spacing because it fit the equipment we had and we don’t change equipment that often. Because we furrow[ or flood] irrigate, we need the wide rows to get water across the field. Some folks around here have gone to narrow rows but they tend to have different irrigation methods.”
Mark says the only equipment change was their planter. Where yield is the biggest driver for some growers, Mark says weed control and capturing the sunlight is the biggest reason for him.
“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. We also have positive yield responses but they can vary from 5-10 percent depending on the growing season.”
Mark captured this short video last fall where he shows harvest and provides a little commentary on twin-row corn and the 2009 season.
What agronomic practices have you introduced to your farm to produce more or conserve more?