COLUMBUS, Ohio – Twin-row corn is becoming more of an attractive production practice for growers across the Midwest, but the jury is still out in Ohio on its yield potential, according to Ohio State University Extension research.
Last year, OSU Extension agronomists conducted an evaluation of twin-row corn and compared yield potential to traditional 30-inch rows. The study was part of a multi-state evaluation of twin-row corn, which also involved Purdue University and University of Nebraska.
Twin-row corn is placed 7 or 8 inches apart on 30-inch centers.
"We've received several inquiries concerning the yield potential of twin-row corn plantings. Higher seeding rates and new planters that accommodate twin rows are generating interest in twin-row corn production," said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension corn agronomist.
The Ohio research, conducted at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Northwest Research Agricultural Station near Hoytville, focused on hybrids with varying maturities and a range of plant populations from 28,000 plants per acre to 43,000 plants per acre.
"Although a small but significantly higher yield occurred when plant populations increased above 28,000 plants per acre, twin and 30-inch rows exhibited similar responses to plant population, and there were no differences in yield between hybrids," said Thomison, who also holds an OARDC appointment. "The Ohio findings were generally similar to the preliminary results reported in the other states that participated in the study. The yield advantage, when it did occur, was usually less than 3 bushels per acre."
Researchers plan to continue the evaluations this year to obtain results under various environmental conditions.
Although yield potential remains a question mark, the production benefits the system provides should not be overlooked, said John Smith, OSU Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.
"The jury is still out on yield profitability, but growers who grow twin-row corn like the system because they can use the same corn header, same tire spacing, same equipment as in 30-inch corn production," said Smith. "They can increase plant populations without having to change the configuration of their equipment."
Twin-row corn production is fast becoming an alternative to narrow-row corn, which serves the same purpose as twin-row. But the row spacings associated with narrow row (22 inches or less) requires farmers to reconfigure their equipment, and as a result, incur additional costs. Additionally, yield benefits from narrow-row corn in Ohio has been inconsistent or too small to make a significant difference.
For farmers like Bill Berg from Wapakoneta, the production benefits associated with twin-row corn are enough to warrant his attention.
Berg has been practicing twin-row soybeans for eight years and is so impressed with the system that he is thinking about trying it on his corn crop.
"The quality of my soybean crop is just super. Last few years I've probably gotten 55 to 60 bushels per acre and test weights have been better than normal," said Berg. "Plus, it's just so much easier to conduct field operations and I don't have to adjust my equipment going from corn to soybeans. I can just drive right down the rows."
Controlled traffic, said Berg, is the name of the game, however.
"It only works if your equipment is set up right," he said.
For more information on the OSU Extension twin-row corn study, log on to http://corn.osu.edu/story.php?setissueID=343&storyID=2013.