Will Corn Following Corn Face Decreased Yield?

The 2010 season was a disappointing one for corn growers in many parts of Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger. With a statewide average yield of only 157 bushels per acre, just 4.2 bushels higher than the U.S. average, and the third-worst yield in the past decade, many Illinois producers are hoping for a more bountiful 2011.

Over the past 10 years, the Illinois corn yield has averaged 13.7 bushels per acre above the U.S. national average, and has been below the national average only once (by 4.9 bushels in 2005) and above it by as much as 25.1 bushels (2008).

“The major problem in 2010 was heavy rainfall in June that resulted in standing water and saturated soils, which in turn resulted in nitrogen loss and damage to root systems which could not be repaired,” Nafziger said. “As a result, affected fields and parts of fields ended up with shortages of both nitrogen and water, problems made worse by high temperatures and early maturity, and in some cases by dry weather during the latter part of the grainfilling period.”

Corn following corn was particularly hard hit in 2010, and there were numerous reports of larger yield penalties for corn following corn compared to corn following soybean than most have seen for a number of years, he added.

In research trials conducted since 2003, Nafziger saw similar results. He has been comparing continuous corn, corn rotated with soybean, and corn following either corn or soybean in a corn-corn-soybean rotation.

Nafziger said that the rule of thumb for many years has been that corn following corn yields about 10 percent less than corn following soybean. This difference has often been less than that in some recent comparisons, but he said it varies depending on the year.

Across four northern Illinois sites, the yield penalty for continuous corn was about 11 percent in 2008-09, but 19 percent in 2010. Second-year corn in the corn-corn-soybean rotation yielded only 5 percent less than corn following soybean in 2008-09, and 10 percent less in 2010, indicating that having soybeans even two years ago helps lessen the yield penalty for corn following corn. At the two southern Illinois locations, with considerably lower yields, the penalty for continuous compared to rotated corn was substantially less, measured either as bushels or as a percentage, he noted.

Despite the relatively poor performance of corn following corn in 2010, Nafziger said most indications are that this shouldn’t be the expectation for 2011.

“Field and soil conditions are much different than they were a year ago,” he said. “None of the factors of a year ago – late fall harvest, poor tillage conditions, lots of fresh residue on the surface, and much nitrogen yet to apply – exist this spring. We did a massive amount of tillage last fall, in some cases perhaps more than was necessary.”

One additional benefit for producers is that it has not been wet for extended periods when soil temperatures were warm since nitrogen was applied last fall. Most of the nitrogen should still be present, with a good deal of it still in the ammonium form and so not subject to loss.

“Though we can certainly feel good about preparations we’ve been able to make for this spring, we know from history that a good fall doesn’t always mean a good crop the following year,” he cautioned. “Soils are starting to dry out nicely in some areas, but we need to be careful not to undo the compaction relief provided by last fall’s tillage by driving on soils before they’re dry enough.”

Waiting until soils are dry enough at depth (not just over the surface) will help minimize compaction effects, as will using controlled traffic, making fewer tillage passes, and lowering tire pressure.

Nafziger encourages producers to follow the same practices they have been using when planting corn following corn this year.

“Our research shows that both corn after corn and corn after soybean respond similarly to planting date and to plant population, so those should change only as soil conditions and productivity might indicate,” he said. “We’ve never been able to identify hybrids that do consistently better in corn following corn, though corn following corn may tend to experience stress (primarily drought stress) and foliar diseases more often, so that should be factored in. And corn following corn typically needs a little more nitrogen — see the N Rate Calculator for current numbers.”

Remember the important things this planting season, Nafziger said.

“Having good soil conditions where the seed is placed and good rooting conditions beneath the surface are critically important for corn no matter what the previous crop,” he said. “And the crop needs to be well provided with nutrients and protected from pests. Once we cover these basics, the crop will respond mostly to weather factors – water and temperature – that we don’t control. That has always been true, and will be true again in 2011.”

(Source: Emerson Nafziger, Extension Specialist, Crop Production, ednaf@illinois.edu)

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FungicidesResearchers Target Soybean Disease With Genetic Resistance Study
August 6, 2014
University of Illinois researchers will share new information on controlling sudden death syndrome through genetic resistance at this year's Agronomy Day. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More