The 5th Wonder

Good morning!  Due to some technical difficulties last week I was unable to give those who are patiently awaiting the “5th Wonder of the Corn World” the answer.  Thanks to someone more computer savvy then me we are back on line and ready to go.  The answer…….plant population.  Plant population can contribute up to 20 bu/acre, or 8% of the total of 300 bu corn.  The question on plant population for our area up north is a bit of a tougher question to answer then some of the previous wonders.  We have some highly variable land, and weather patterns that really dictate the populations that we can support.  Let’s just talk about your really good ground for sake of plant population.  Many growers in our area that are really pushing the high yield barriers are definitely pushing their populations.  In the past 28000-30000 plants per acre was considered pushing the envelope on populations, now I know some growers are pushing 35000-38000 plants per acre.  With this push in population they are also seeing a good bump in yield, but they are managing for the increased population by supplying enough nutrients to support that population.  Where does population need to be at for 300 bu corn?  According to Dr. Below we need to be in the area of 45000 plants per acre.  To achieve this we will need to makes some changes to our row spacing.   Is it possible to push the population to 45000 plants in 30’ rows, I don’t really think so.  More narrow rows, or twin rows allow a grower to push population more while still allowing the corn to have ample soil and light interception to grow.  But also remember that all factors are dependent on the ones above them so to support this population you will need the correct nutrient ratios and the correct hybrids.  Many universities and seed companies are doing large amounts of plot work on spacing and populations so I look to have some really solid data in the next few years to really support this idea.  For now, take a look at your good ground and do some studies on your own, push your populations in an area and see how it compares to your normal populations.  Next week the “6th” wonder, until then I hope everyone has a great end to their week.