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

MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. 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

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
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
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

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More