Corn Prefers Opportunity To Competition

A Purdue University researcher’s motto, "No plant left behind," sums up his research on achieving increased grain yield for corn at higher plant densities. What has he learned?

"The only way to pursue and achieve higher grain yields on a per-acre basis at high plant densities is to make sure that every single plant has the opportunity to compete with its neighbor in the row," says agronomy professor Tony Vyn. "The only way to achieve this competition ability is to have the genetic resources, in terms of a hybrid’s ability to compete and gain access to nutrients and water."

The results of this three-year study, which looked at approximately 4,000 individual plants each of the three years, are published in the early online version of Agronomy JournalClick here for a downloadable version of the article.

Each year from the time that seedlings first emerged from the soil, the plants were barcoded. Vyn’s team grew to understand how individual plants compete with neighbors at three different plant densities and three different nitrogen rates.

"This study is perhaps the most comprehensive study that’s ever been done to look at the multiple stress effects on individual corn plant performance during its growth stages, as well as on the final result in terms of grain yield per plant," Vyn says.

One misconception the industry has is that barren plants or ears with only a few kernels at the end of the growing season are a result of when the plant first emerged from the soil back in the very beginning, Vyn said.

"It actually has a lot more to do with how that plant was able to compete with its neighbor in terms of capturing sunlight, producing a big leaf area, trying to silk and have the pollen shed at the same time, and retain green leaves well into the grain-fill period," he says. "Essentially, there is a seasonlong, but management-dependent, intense competition that occurs among adjacent plants.

"Competition is enhanced at high plant densities, especially when nitrogen is limiting. So nitrogen is an example of a nutrient that becomes more essential at high plant densities in order to avoid the keen establishment of hierarchies where there are many dominated plants and then a few very dominant plants, which have the ability to marshal more resources into their growth so that they have a high yield."

Vyn found that the anthesis-to-silking interval is crucial to the final grain yield.

"Basically, if you have plants that have been dominated by their neighbors, they will tend to shed pollen on time, but they will have a very delayed emergence of the silk," he says. "So the main reason for barrenness in corn plants has to do with the long time interval between pollen shed on the tassel and silk development of the ear."

From an industry standpoint, Vyn says that as the future of corn yield improvement is considered, seed companies must study the response of their hybrids and germplasms to higher plant densities in the context of nitrogen use efficiency.

"As we’ve tried to push yield barriers beyond 300 and 350 bushels per acre, it’s extremely important that we think about the ability of the plant to tolerate not just a single stress like high plant density, but also be able to tolerate lower nitrogen availability on a per-plant basis," Vyn says. "Our results suggest that on the plant breeding side of the equation, more attention should be focused on the joint ability of new corn hybrids to tolerate combined stresses of both high plant density and limited nitrogen.

"If the new hybrids can better tolerate both, then it will be possible for those high-density, low-nitrogen situations to achieve an overall improvement in uniformity of grain yield on a per-plant basis."

Funding for this research was provided by the Purdue Research Foundation, a Pioneer Fellowship in Plant Sciences, and a Purdue University Andrews Foundation Fellowship. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. provided seed and Deere & Co. loaned field and automatic guidance equipment.

(Source: Purdue University)

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific Findings On Glyphosate
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safety Amid Troubling Report
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
Chuck Gates, Ohio CCA of the Year
ManagementOABA Honors 2015 Certified Crop Adviser Of The Year
March 16, 2015
Chuck Gates, of Tiffin, OH, has been named the 2015 Certified Crop Adviser of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Board and will receive $1,500 provided by DuPont Pioneer. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More