No. 1 Article 12/March 23, 2007

Should We Increase Corn Plant Populations?

Some recent articles in the farm press have suggested that raising corn plant populations will pay off in many fields. In some cases, suggestions to increase populations have been accompanied by the suggestion that higher plant populations in turn need higher nitrogen rates, or perhaps that using more N increases the optimum plant population. Our research has not shown much interaction between N rate and plant population. Instead, we think that decisions on both need to be reached independently of one another.

We have been conducting studies of planting dates and plant populations for the past two years at five or six locations in Illinois, with planting dates running from early April through late May and final plant populations ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 plants per acre. Planting date and population responses are complex, and they are very much affected by weather, making solid conclusions difficult. This means that we need to continue such work for a few more years. In the meantime I can share the following:

--Emerson Nafziger

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