Testing a Secret to Success: Corn Emergence Study Underway

Farnhamville plot home to the same, no-cost emergence test used by NCGA yield contest winner 

When a farmer shares his secret to 500 bushel per acre corn, you take notes. If you’re a Landus Cooperative field sales agronomist, you take notes AND work to replicate that success for your local farmer customers.

In February, the agronomy team hosted Georgia-grower, Randy Dowdy, for a presentation on his keys to winning the National Corn Growers yield contest in 2014 at 503 bushels per acre. Dowdy’s secret? Critical thinking and understanding return on investment. Specifically, he noted that planting precision and even emergence were important to his yield success.

This spring, the Landus Cooperative agronomy team is testing Dowdy’s hypothesis that a more even stand means better yield. In effect, does late emerging, weaker corn suck nutrients from earlier, more healthy plants?

Testing the Corn Emergence Hypothesis
Phase 1
Corn was planted at the test plot in Farnhamville April 26, 2016. On Wednesday, May 11, the first corn spiked out of the ground. That morning, Dave Lemke, regional agronomist, walked the plot and placed pink flags next to each emerged plant in a 1/1000th of an acre section (two rows, 17 feet, 5 inches long). Twelve hours later, he repeated the steps with orange flags. About 85% of the corn was up within 24 hours.

Twelve hours later Lemke placed blue flags next to newly emerged corn. Forty-eight hours after the first corn emerged, new spikes were flagged in white.

On May 13, all the corn in the testing area had emerged. The attached photos were taken May 16 after two days of below-normal temperatures and above average rainfall.

Phase 2: When corn reaches ear-fill stage, Lemke plans to count ears and estimate kernels per year to compare each stalk’s performance. He will record estimated yield for each stalk and compare the emergence times and dates to estimate the yield impact.

He anticipates some growers could see emergence variances much beyond the 48 hour range seen at the Farnhamville plot. In those situations, he recommends growers immediately reviewing planting equipment for seed bed preparation processes and correctly-set depths. Landus Cooperative field sales agronomists have resources available for customers through the cooperative’s precision planting services to evaluate, tweak and improve planting precision for uniform emergence, and potentially, bigger yields.

Lemke notes the no-cost test for achieving big yields can easily be replicated by area farmers; all you need are some colored flags and the willingness to calculate anticipate yield stalk by stalk in a small area. farny blue 2