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Strip Cropping Corn, Beans Boosts Yields
Richard Hagen's sold on strip-cropping corn and soybeans, based on four years' experience on his Olivia, Minn., 80 acre hobby farm.
He plants corn and soybeans in alternate 8-row strips (30 in. rows) running north and south. The idea: To expose tall-growing corn to more sunlight by alternating it with rows of low-growing soybeans.
Last fall on Sept. 30, using a test plot harvester, Hagen harvested the corn strips one row at a time to accurately measure how individual rows compared yieldwise. He harvested the rows, just short of a half mile long, in pairs, taking the two outside rows (1 and 8) on the first round, rows 2 and 7 on the next round, 3 and 6 on the next, and the middle two rows (4 and 5) on the last round.
Hagen discovered that outside corn rows out-yielded inside center rows by nearly 30 bu./A.
With 95 day corn (Keltgen KS 9.5) planted at 30,000 plants per acre, actual yields were 197.1 bu./A at 17.8% moisture and 57.3 lbs test weight for the two outside rows (1 and 8), verses 169.7 bu./ A for the two center rows (4 and 5) which also produced wetter corn (18.6% moisture) and at a slightly lower (57 lbs.) test weight. Rows 2 and 7 averaged 177.3 bu./A, and rows 3 and 6 averaged 175.8 bu./A.
With 110 day corn (Keltgen KS 1090), yields were higher and, as with earlier-maturing corn, outside rows were the big producers, yielding 213.2 bu./A (23.1% moisture), compared to 183.5 bu./A (24.6% moisture) for the center two rows. Rows 2 and 7 yielded 213 bu./ A and rows 3 and 6 averaged 199.1 bu.
Hagen notes that his stripped-cropped beans, harvested 8 rows at a time, yielded 51.2 bu./A. "This is probably about what I would have gotten with conventional planting. With stripping, you do it to boost corn yields without sacrificing bean yields," notes Hagen. "Judging from the size and number of pods, it appeared that the outside bean rows adjacent to corn may have yielded slightly less than the remaining rows because of greater competition for moisture from corn roots and shading."
Hagen plans to try an interesting followup "crop stripping" experiment next spring. He has his corn and beans custom planted on ridges with an 8-row Cyclo planter, owned by neighbor Randy Mertz. By plugging selected
holes in the air drum, Mertz and Hagen aim to plant the outside corn rows (1 and 8) at 36,000 plants per acre to capitalize on their higher yield potential, and the remaining rows at regular population (30,000).
Contact Richard Hagen, Box 124, Olivia, Minn. 56277 (ph 612 523-1716).

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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #1