The project started in 2012, when Stine® planted 2,300 acres of corn and 100 acres of soybeans in equidistant narrow rows at populations as high as 51,000 plants per acre.
Even with 2012’s drought conditions, the yield results were impressive. In areas with the best growing conditions, our corn yields consistently topped 300 bushels per acre. Those early results reaffirmed our belief that proper hybrid selection, allowing for more efficient utilization of space, will shape the future for higher corn yields.
In 2013, Stine went “all in,” and planted 100 percent of our 15,000 corn and soybean acres at the Stine® Farm near Adel, Iowa, in 12-inch rows. We used machinery customized for the effort, including modified Stine HP Twin 20 planters, custom-built corn heads, sprayers and special floatation tractor tires that operate with just five pounds of air pressure.
Though the results of this research were encouraging and the idea of 12-inch rows sparked much interest, we have always contended that row width is simply a means to an end; a process to allow us to reach the kind of planting populations we need to achieve maximum yields. We also knew that at some point we would likely need to go even narrower to reach our population goals.
Armed with two years of yield results in ultra-narrow rows, Stine took HP Corn® research to the next level. In 2014, the Stine Seed Farm team began utilizing a brand new narrow row, twin-row planting configuration. This system — the Stine HP Twin 20 Planting System — could best be described as 20-inch twin rows, with 12 inches of main row spacing, then eight inches separating each pair of twin rows. This configuration has allowed us to make even more efficient use of each acre planted; 60-foot planter bars now hold 72 rows in the space where we formerly had 60. That figures to an average row spacing of just 10 inches.
This new configuration is a significant change, which has requiredupdates to machinery and processes, but one that we hope will provide even more valuable information that we can share with growers. It has offered growers an immediate avenue for HP Corn production since our Stine HP Twin 20 Planting System can be harvested using regular 20-inch row corn heads, which are available from several suppliers.
We are committed to exploring every option to deliver valuable information to our grower customers regarding high-density corn production. We believe in the future of high-population corn and are working to make it accessible to any grower in the U.S. who wants to unlock the potential for higher yields in his or her own fields.