Marion’s Top Tips for Researching Narrow Row Corn

  1. Avoid doubling back with a 30-inch planter to create 15-inch rows as this creates twice as much compaction, which can nullify the yield advantage of 15-inch rows. Doubling back may be acceptable in demonstration plots but is not acceptable in research plots. 
  2. All field operations should be performed in a different direction than planting. Example: Plant north and south, but spray, fertilize, and till east and west.
  3. When comparing row spacings, they should be planted at the same populations.
  4. Ideally, row spacing should be compared using the same planter, which should be equipped and calibrated so that meters operate at the same speed when planting both plots. 
  5. Both 23- and 31-row, 15-inch Kinze planters and 31-row, 15-inch John Deere planters provide a good way to test 15-inch versus 30-inch row spacings. This is because they have two transmissions which allows for the planting of both row spacings at the same time. 
  6. When calculating 15-inch row yield data, remember that planting 15 rows with 15-inch spacing is 225 inches, which is only 18 feet 9 inches, not 20 feet.
  7. At my research farm, test plots with long row lengths have less yield variability than test plots with short row lengths.
  8. In drought years, the yield advantage to 15-inch rows is often much greater than in years with normal rainfall. 
  9. No researcher does everything perfectly on every acre or every research plot. It is a learning process as we are still unaware of the full potential of ultranarrow row corn. One thing we have learned is that the yield advantage does increase with experience. 


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