Corn Row Spacings – The Good and Bad
Gone are the days when a farmer spaced his row crops to accommodate farm animals that pulled the equipment. Today, the most important decisions for corn row spacing are corn product selection and plant population; and researchers continue to compare the pros and cons in an ongoing attempt to achieve higher yield potential which in turn feeds an ever-increasing population. An article in aganytime.com discusses these pros and cons for narrow spacing (less that 22.5 inches) which I will summarize below.
- Equidistant in-row plant spacing. The idea behind this is that when your plants are spaced evenly, competition for water, nutrients and light is lessened and this can be beneficial when a stress factor is present.
- Better weed control. Narrow rows can create canopy faster which means more shading and improved weed control.
- Less Water Loss to Evaporation. The shade created earlier in the season by narrow rows keeps soil moist longer.
- Consolidating farm equipment. When using narrow rows, one planter can be used for multiple crops.
- Higher yield potential. All of the benefits listed above lend to the possibility of increased yields.
- An increased chance of compaction from farm equipment during narrow row planting.
- Mechanical and post-emergence herbicide applications might be more difficult in narrow rows.
- Added expense connected to the switch to narrow rows including:
- a new or modified planter
- rims and tires
- rate increases in insecticide rates and starter fertilizer.
If you’re still undecided on what spacing to use, Twin row planting is another option. This method has a 30 or 38 inch center row which is flanked by twin rows that are 7.5 inches apart.
Research shows that the Corn Belt has the highest and most consistent yield potential associated with narrow row spacing, and the University of Minnesota feels this is due to the shorter growing season and the need for earlier maturing corn products.
When planting narrow rows, choose corn products that are rated with a high yield potential when planted under these conditions. Newer corn products are usually able to withstand higher plant density levels.
Do any of you have words of advice on narrow row planting? Let us know in the comments below. For some of you planting has already begun. For others, it’s right around the corner!
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team