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COLUMN: Five Keys to High Corn Yield

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By David Harrison

There are five keys to high corn yields.

By optimizing all of these five keys, the odds for producing high corn yields are much improved.

1) Good hybrid genetics start with a high yielding hybrid and includes stress tolerance and defensive traits, such as disease tolerance. The best measuring stick we currently have for stress tolerance is yield over multiple locations. Different stresses are imposed at each location and hybrid performance across locations is a good indicator of general stress tolerance.

2) Maximizing days suitable for growing includes selecting the proper hybrid maturity, timely planting and finding hybrid with excellent stress tolerance. Hybrids that mature in about 113 to 117 days typically perform the best in our area. Optimal planting dates are usually in middle to late April.

3) Achieving 90 to 95 percent light interception at or close to silking is affected by several things. Current UK recommendations to accomplish this includes seeding rates between 22,000 and 30,000 seeds per acre, a row spacing of 30 inches, timely planting, hybrid maturities of 113 to 117 days, adequate nutrients, and good early season weed control.

4) Providing adequate nutrients complete plant growth and seed fill includes adjusting soil pH, and adding the proper amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. A soil test is required for most soil nutrients. Soil type and previous crop determine the range of nitrogen necessary.

5) While no one can control the amount of rainfall (except by irrigation), water infiltration and water availability can be managed by conserving soil organic matter (no-till) and reducing soil compaction.