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Does The Corn Field Have Enough Plants?

CROP WATCH 2014: Seeding rate not as important as how many plants per acre.

Tom Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

July 3, 2014

2 Min Read

The Crop Watch '14 field was planted at about 32,000 seeds per acre. Bob Nielsen says that doesn't matter. What he wants to know before he could estimate yield this fall is how many plants there are per acre. He would want to know that for different parts of the field.

Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, is spreading the word this summer that it's plants per acre that counts, not how many seeds you dropped per acre. That's because it's how many thousand ears you have per acre that determine yield, not how many seeds were there in the beginning.

We haven't done stand counts on this field yet, but you will have that information before you're asked to guess final yield.


Sometime soon, you will get the details about how you can win free seed from Seed Consultants, Inc., for 2015. All you will have to do is guess the final dry yield of the Crop Watch '14 field. Keep watching for clues here on Monday and Friday, and in each issue of the magazine.

Knee-high would have been a good time to take counts, although it can be done before harvest, Nielsen says. He doesn't like doing it when corn is very small because some plants that are there then may not be there later.

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Once corn reaches knee-high, he says most plants that are in the field will still be there at harvest. Whether they all produce ears or not is another matter. Some could be barren, especially if you push the population.


The seeding rate used on this field is not pushing the population limit that far, at least not based on what Nielsen recommends. He's currently recommending 31,000 to 32,000 plants at harvest for average soils, and about 26,000 for soils that stress easily, often drought-prone soils.

Check back every Monday and Friday to follow the progress of the Crop Watch field.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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