Ag Notes, Feb. 14

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Important practices needed to produce high yielding corn 

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on corn production.

The increased costs of seed, fertilizer, fuel and land rents have caused many farmers to consider cutting costs or corners to alleviate some of the pressure. In the rush to save money, now is a good time to review the concepts of producing high yields.

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There are five keys to high corn yields: 1) good genetics; 2) maximize days suitable for growing; 3) achieve 90 to 95 percent light interception at or close to silking (R1); 4) adequate nutrients to complete plant growth and seed fill, and 5) adequate water and air to complete plant growth and seed fill. By optimizing each of these five keys, the odds for producing high corn yields are much improved.

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.

Disease tolerance is not necessary every year or in every field and is difficult to evaluate. Seed companies do their best to provide accurate disease information, but hybrids will sometimes perform differently in the field. New traits, such as Bt, by themselves do not guarantee high yields. These traits must be in hybrids that have excellent yield potential.

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 Kentucky. Optimal planting dates in Kentucky are middle to late April for western Kentucky and early May for central and eastern Kentucky.