By Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc.
As you harvest corn this fall, it is important to assess the performance of the hybrids in the field, but there are some important considerations to remember. We can’t compare the performance of hybrids of different relative maturities, especially when they are 7 to 8 days apart unless we are trying to study different maturities. Also, we should not compare the yields of hybrids planted 10 days apart unless we are trying to study the effects of planting dates on yields.
Planting is one of the most important things you do during the growing season. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of doing a good job of planting. The fields planted in a rush will be uneven in germination as well in spacing. It has been shown by studies conducted at Purdue and Ohio State Universities as well as in my own studies conducted over the years that seedlings which emerge even a couple of days later than their neighbors will have a disadvantage. They will be spindly, shorter and will produce smaller ears or nubbins.
If the seeds are not spaced equally within the row, the plants near the gaps will have bigger ears and those that are crowded will produce nubbins, even if they all emerge at the same time. So, we are talking about not only the planting depth, but also the down pressure, precision planting with equal spacing and planting speed. Soybeans plants can compensate by producing more branches and pods but corn plants are not very forgiving. Plants don’t believe in “one for all and all for one” philosophy. Each one of them is trying to capture as much sun light, nutrients and water it can to produce as large a progeny it can to survive and prosper.