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
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take Center Stage
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
MicronutrientsSouthern States: An Inside Look At Our Tissue Sampling Program
April 15, 2015
Remember learning about the food pyramid in school? The nutritional diagram recommends the proper amount of nutrients you need on Read More
Marestail 18-24 inches infests cotton field
HerbicidesWeeds To Watch 2015: Resistance Remains Riling
April 7, 2015
Although several trade shows/groups are commemorating various anniversaries during 2015, there is another agricultural-themed milestone this year that will not Read More
Valley Irrigation variable rate irrigation
EquipmentIrrigation Control Gets Ever More Precise
April 6, 2015
As more regions of the country struggle with water conservation and off-site nutrient movement, growers are looking for ways to Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed 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
Latest News
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take…
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
USDA
StewardshipUSDA Outlines Building Blocks For Climate Smart Agricul…
April 23, 2015
Today, the USDA has announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Welcomes New Territory Sales Manager
April 23, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Kaitlyn Acaster to the Canadian sales team. Acaster will fill the Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Opens New Research Greenhouse
April 23, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Acquires Taxon Biosciences
April 23, 2015
DuPont has agreed to acquire Taxon Biosciences, Inc., a leading microbiome discovery company. This acquisition will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities Read More
Farmer on tablet
ManagementStudy: Consumers Don’t Care If U.S. Farmers Feed …
April 23, 2015
“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for Read More
Industry NewsCorporate Responsibility Magazine Names Monsanto One Of…
April 22, 2015
Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CR Magazine) named Monsanto Co. to its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2015. This is the Read More
FertilizerSpring Nitrogen Management: Form And Timing
April 22, 2015
Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Industry NewsFMC Corp. Completes Acquisition Of Cheminova
April 22, 2015
FMC Corp. has completed the closing of its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark Read More
SoftwareSyngenta Expands AgriEdge Excelsior Nationwide For 2015
April 22, 2015
Growers across the country can now take the guesswork out of improving their farm’s production, land value, farm stewardship and Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesU.S. Regulators May Start Testing Food For Glyphosate R…
April 21, 2015
U.S. regulators may start testing food products for residues of the world’s most widely used herbicide, EPA told Reuters’ Carey Read More
FungicidesBRANDT Adds Zonix Biofungicide To Portfolio
April 21, 2015
BRANDT has added Zonix biofungicide to its rapidly expanding line of organic and sustainable products. Zonix is a contact fungicide that Read More
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More