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Growing Corn Under Plastic
"We think this idea, which can add 15 or more days to the growing season, has widespread application for expanding corn growing areas throughout the world, including the U.S. and Canada," reports Dominique Lemaire, sales manager for the Huard Co. in France, developer of a special planter for growing corn (for grain or silage) under plastic.
Huard has developed a special 4-row planter which rolls out the plastic strips and punches corn kernels through the plastic and into the ground in a once-over operation.
"The idea behind the plastic is to trap heat and speed germination, growth and maturity of the crop. We're not using the plastic itself for weed control," explains Lemaire. "We fertilize and spray to control weeds before laying,down the plastic. If needed during the growing season, we go in and spray for weeds right over the plastic."
The plastic strips are about 4 ft. wide and the corn rows about 40 in. apart. During planting, the edges of the plastic strips are covered with a 12 in. wide strip of dirt scooped up from the row middles by special disks on the planter. The plastic is worked into the soil after harvest where it quickly degrades and new plastic is laid down as each new corn crop is planted.
Advantages cited for growing corn under plastic include 3 to 5% faster germination, and 13 to 21 days earlier maturity. "In France, there appears to be more advantages with plastic in growing corn for silage rather than for grain," Lemaire told FARM SHOW. "At 80 days after planting, corn grown under plastic is generally about 3 ft. taller than corn grown without plastic."
The planter is a Nodet air planter, modified to "punch" individual kernels through the plastic film. It plants four rows and lays down two strips of plastic on each pass. Since first introducing the idea five years ago, Huard has produced about 100 planters which this year will plant an estimated combined total of about 30,000 acres of corn under plastic throughout France.
Cost of the plastic is right at $13 per acre. The four-row planter equipped for laying down the plastic strips retails for about $10,000.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Huard, Rue Des Vauzelles, Chateaubriant, 44110, France.

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #3