ASK THE AGRONOMIST BLOG

Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

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    Preparing for a Successful Plot

    March 18, 2016

    Posted by Brian Hartman in Planting

    Agronomists, dealers and growers alike work every year to find the highest yielding corn hybrids and soybean varieties available in their area. One way to achieve this is to plant plots, in which they will compare multiple brands and hybrids against one another. These plots can serve as a perfect venue for field days and offer exposure to certain brands looking to promote their hybrids and varieties. Mastering yield in the field is no easy feat, but with the right protocols in place, the right hybrids and varieties, and best management practices, you increase your statistical abilities to achieve your desired outcome come harvest time.

    The key to a successful plot begins with getting a full picture of the plot location. Before you start planting, get the complete information, such as fertility levels, cation exchange capacity, organic matter, nitrogen rates and type, and previous crops planted in the field. These factors will help determine which hybrids/varieties to use.

    Another detail to consider is equal representation. Equal representation in your plot provides a more accurate portrayal of the hybrid/variety and how it measures up to its competition when it comes to yield, standability and plant type. For example, you want to choose hybrids/varieties that are blocked by similar height and plant accordingly to that hybrid/variety, not the plot average. Plants blocked by similar height help eliminate some of the shading effect, which offers each hybrid/variety the opportunity to achieve equal yield potential. I recommend planting more rows wide than length; a minimum of six rows wide will help reduce the shading effect versus the standard four row plots.  

    Field checks are also important when it comes to best management practices on a plot. You want to plant the same hybrid/variety in a few different places within the plot to see how consistent the soil is. This will give you an idea of which hybrid/variety performs better on certain ground and soil types.

    When implementing the proper measures to ensure a successful plot, it’s important to remember than even with the right amount of moisture and having the hybrid/variety placed correctly, you only have about a 60 percent chance of beating out the competition. Take notes from your plots this year, so that your odds of maximizing yield improve next year.

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    Dwarf Corn Shows Promising Future

    October 08, 2015

    Posted by Brian Hartman in Research

    For nearly five years, Stine has been experimenting with dwarf corn hybrids — developed from dwarf inbreds and designed to produce shorter, more efficient, and higher yielding plants. Dwarf corn hybrids average between 65 and 70 inches in height, with ear placement occurring at the 40-inch mark or higher on the plant. Approximately 4,000 different dwarf inbreds are currently being researched at the Stine nursery in Adel, Iowa, — all of which are bred for high-population planting — and Stine is already seeing the benefits of the smaller, more efficient plant structure.

    One of the main benefits we’re seeing is there’s a longer management window because there’s more flexibility to operate equipment in and around your field, so you’re not relying solely on helicopters and planes for applications. You can also pack more plants into a smaller area, resulting in less overall biomass in the plant and better plant efficiency. Growers find that with taller plants, a lot of wasted energy goes into the stalk. In a shorter stalk, nutrients can distribute to the area of the plant that benefits the most — the ear.

    Additionally, dwarf corn hybrids offer a higher resistance to lodging. Because of the plant’s significantly shorter architecture, it’s less likely to blow over or fall down in strong wind events. And some research suggests that there is a correlation between how close the tassel and ear are together on a plant and overall yield potential. This results in a more efficient pollination process, which in turn promotes a higher-yielding plant.

    The work in this area is still very preliminary and, even if successful, Stine is still several years from introducing a dwarf corn hybrid to the market. But as our research continues at the Stine Seed Farm, it’s clear that dwarf corn may have a promising future in the corn industry.

  • Tricks of the Trade: Lessons Learned from 2014 HP Corn Harvest Lead Way for Future Yield Gains
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    Tricks of the Trade: Lessons Learned from 2014 HP Corn Harvest Lead Way for Future Yield Gains

    March 10, 2015

    Posted by Brian Hartman in High-Population Corn

    Every year, our high-population corn research reveals something new. In 2014, we garnered some excellent insights that will guide us in our 2015 research. If you’re also planning to shift to higher-population planting, follow these tips to make the most of your acres:

    Plant early — Delayed planting results in bigger plants and requires a lower-population hybrid. The more delayed you become, adjust populations down accordingly.

    Check soil drainage — Water-logged or poorly drained soils will be short of oxygen. When either oxygen or water is the limiting factor in corn production, a lower population is needed.

    Choose the right hybrid — Stine is developing hybrids specifically suited for high-population planting. They are shorter than traditional hybrids and have leaves that grow upright to catch more sunlight. These hybrids also feature compact structures that produce outstanding roots and stalks, ensuring a sturdier plant, which in turn helps it thrive in higher populations.

    Check for adequate nutrients — Medium to high levels of phosphorus and potassium with the appropriate amount of nitrogen and sulfur applied at the proper time is essential. Most of this needs to be applied during the growing season as a sidedress or over the top application and must include the sulfur.

    Consider planting range — On highly productive soils, for example, plant in the 41,000 to 51,000 range, with the high end of the range restricted to the newest short hybrids.

    Harvest early to maximize gains — Getting the crop out in a timely fashion will help minimize weather-related harvest issues.

    Assuming optimum weather and field conditions, we expect following these protocols will result in yield gains, including an increase of three to nine percent by making the switch to narrow rows with a more equal planting distance. Additionally, selecting the right hybrid for your field — and with the right genetics for high-density planting — could mean a five to 12 percent yield increase. And ensuring your soil has the proper nutrients, as well as timely nitrogen applications, may result in a 10 to 20 percent yield boost.

    At Stine, we believe that high-density corn production will lead the way to consistently averaging 300 bushels per acre or more year after year. Contact your local Stine Seed dealer or agronomist to get started on your yield of dreams.