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Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences

Seed Cost and Planting Rate for Corn - from Mike Roegge

Posted by John Fulton -

Work recently completed at the U of I Orr Research Center, in Perry (and replicated across the state at the other 5 research farms) investigated the optimal corn planting date and population. This work was conducted to update previous research that was somewhat dated. Other Midwestern Universities research supports this data as well.

Producers have steadily increased corn populations over the years as hybrids have improved in their ability to stand. With this, corn yields have increased as well. Most agronomists would agree that 30K plants (or more) per acre is the optimum population. But at some point, determining the correct population becomes a calculation based upon the price of the seed and the price received for the crop.

Generally speaking, for those higher producing soils, under optimal growing conditions, the closer the final stand is to 35K, the better the results. And for those lower producing soils, populations between 25-30K would be recommended. However, to truly compare economic populations, you must also look at seed cost and the selling price of corn.

Using a seed cost of $2 per thousand ($160 per 80K seeds) and a $4 corn selling price, for those high producing soils, there is an economic advantage for corn population of 35K at harvest (6 bushel yield increase). However, as the seed cost increased, the advantage is reduced. At a seed cost of $2.50 per thousand ($200 per 80K) there is virtually no difference in return between the populations. And as seed cost continues to rise to $3 per thousand ($240 per 80K), the advantage goes to the 30K final population.

Data from the date of planting portion of that study indicate that for central IL, there was only 3 bushels of yield difference between the planting dates of April 1- May 10. With the period of April 11-30 averaging 174 bu/acre, and 10 days earlier or 10 days later averaging 171 bu/acre. This data was generated from 2 sites (Champaign and Perry) over 4 years.

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