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

Latest News
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More