High-yield corn research to feature delayed nitrogen treatments

High-yield corn research project incorporates modern corn hybrids with non-limiting plant populations and delayed nitrogen treatments.

Corn research in 2017 at the Mason Technology Center. Photo by George Silva, MSU Extension.

Corn research in 2017 at the Mason Technology Center. Photo by George Silva, MSU Extension.

Michigan State University Extension and DEKALB/Asgrow brands of Monsanto Company in Mason, Michigan, are collaborating on a research project to maximize corn yields. Two semi flex-ear type hybrids, DKC56-45RIB and DKC58-06RIB, are being tested at two seeding rates of 32,000 and 38,000 seeds per acre, and five nitrogen (N) treatments.

In 2017, in addition to static nitrogen treatments we have included some nitrogen treatments with the emphasis on extending the nitrogen side dress window, as predicted by the web-based Climate Fieldview Pro Nitrogen Advisor model. This model will track the level and movement of nitrogen based on soil type, initial nitrogen application rate, rainfall and other climatic conditions across the entire growing season.

The model is a guide to the rate and timing for optimal late-season nitrogen applications based on yield target and profit goals. In 2017, we expect split nitrogen as late as V10 if needed, based on the model. We have the option to use a Y-drop system to apply nitrogen to tall corn.

The overall objective is to find how these two hybrids will interact with non-limiting plant populations and nitrogen to produce the highest number of harvestable kernels and grain yield per acre. The research plots are located on a high productive soil at the Mason Technology Center in Ingham County. The trial was planted under ideal weather conditions on May 18, 2017 (see photo).

Should we get satisfactory growing conditions, particularly rainfall prevail, this study may offer clues towards reaching the elusive 300 bushels per acre yield goal. At harvest, ear samples will be analyzed for yield components such as rows per ear, kernels per row and average kernel weights.

Testing how these hybrids perform under different input levels will provide valuable data to help growers who wish to apply variable rate technology to planting populations and nitrogen rates in the future.

Achieving 300 bushels per acre will be a significant milestone for corn producers in terms of profitability. Most recent corn yield contest winners in this area have consistently achieved 300 bushels per acre on irrigated land. We believe yield goals of above 250 bushels per acre are currently attainable under dryland conditions in Michigan by a combination of new genetics and smart cultural practices.

This study is funded by the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. Special thanks to Steve Gower, Monsanto agronomist, and his staff at the Mason Technology Center for their assistance.

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