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Twin-Row Corn Tests Deliver 30% Yield Boost
A pair of Iowa farmers say they've experienced as much as a 30 percent yield increase by planting corn in twin rows that are strip-cropped with soybeans.
The twin rows range from 5 to 8 in. apart and are planted by making a second pass through the field with the tractor drawbar shifted to the side. Each strip of twinned corn rows is alternated with a strip of beans.
Steve Rash of Union, Iowa, used his 12-row (30-in.) Kinze planter to plant about 12 acres this year in rows 5 or 6 in. apart. Brad Cruse of Plainfield used his 12-row (30-in.) Kinze planter to plant about an acre of twin rows spaced about 8 in. apart. Populations in the strips are 60,000 ppa, to be thinned down to various lower levels during the sea-son. Rows were planted north and south to capture maximum sunlight.
The obvious attraction is the increase in corn yields, which averaged from about 15 to 30 percent per acre compared with corn planted conventionally, they say.
However, neither Rash nor Cruse are ready to go into twin rows and strip-cropping whole hog.
That's partly because of the extra time and management it requires, they say.
For example, great care has to be taken when spraying to make sure corn herbicides don't drift over onto soybeans and vice versa. (Rash and Cruse feel new herbicide tolerant corn hybrids and soybean varieties may solve this problem.)
Then, too, there's the possible 3 to 5 percent hit soybean yields take because of the shading of outside rows by corn, they add.
"Soybean yields on outside rows shaded by corn were terrible," says Rash, "but there wasn't much difference at all in yields over-all." Soybean yields in inside rows actually averaged higher, about 55 bu., compared with 51 bu. in some fields planted in blocks, possibly because of a windbreak effect from the corn, he speculates.
Finally, there's the question of how to harvest twin-row corn.
Last year, both Rash and Cruse used standard 30-in. corn heads with no problems. Under less-than-ideal conditions, however, there might be problems, notes Cruse.
Meantime, both agree they'll continue working with twin-row corn in strips as long as ISU's study continues.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steve Rash, 1074 Jessup Ave., Union Iowa, 50258 (ph 515 486-5527) or Brad Cruse, 1712 Bishop Ave., Plainfield, Iowa 50666 (ph 319 276-3172).

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1996 - Volume #20, Issue #4