Planting rate for optimum yield

Apr 19, 2021

Field work is starting with planting soon to follow, and now is the time to re-evaluate agronomic decisions related to corn planting. Annually, you strive to plant corn at the optimum density for maximizing corn yield potential, managing input costs, and minimizing the risks of poor standability and barrenness.

Seed germplasm today has shown more consistent ear size under various environmental conditions and can maintain better stalk quality compared to corn as little as ten years ago. These improvements can be attributed to great advances in plant breeding as well as agronomic practices such as fertilization and improved weed control.

What populations achieve optimum yield potential and how do I get to the next level?  Specific populations can vary by geography, so it is important to consider your local conditions as well as ear type, row width, and other environmental factors. Following are points to consider when developing population strategies:
  1. Refer to ear type for population recommendations. Proper planting populations partially depend on the ear type of the hybrid. A hybrid with a determinate ear requires higher populations to achieve top yields, whereas a hybrid with a flex ear may produce lower yields when planted at a high population. Planting populations for hybrids with semi-flex ears can very, as well. Consult your Smith Fertilizer and Grain agronomist for technical production information to determine what population is best for each of your selected hybrids.
  2. Understand how yield environment impacts planting populations. Optimum seeding rate increases as the overall field yield potential increases. Higher yield environments demonstrate more yield response from adjusting seeding rates.
  3. Understand how the planting date can impact populations. Because early planting dates can put more stress on seedlings than later planting dates, a higher seedling rate may be needed if corn is planted before conditions are ideal for emergence and optimum yield potential. Consideration also should be given for uniform planting depth. All plants should emerge at about the same time for optimum yield performance.
  4. Economic factors, cost of seed and commodity prices. The optimum seeding rate for maximizing return is always lower than the optimum seeding rate for highest yield. The optimum economic seeding rate increases as commodity price increases; seed cost influences seeding rate much less.
Corn products respond differently to populations and environments. It is important you have your Smith Fertilizer and Grain agronomist help you observe and evaluate the response of a corn product in many environments to try and optimize placement and planting populations to help maximize your yield potentinal.