May 20, 2012
If there are lots of center pivots around, which there are in various areas of south-central Indiana, but particularly in northern Indiana, then odds are one or more farmers are growing seed corn. It's one of the crops that brings a premium and justifies the expense of installing, maintaining and operating irrigation.
Seed Corn Field Pattern Depends Upon Hybrids Farmer Produces
If you know you're driving by a seed field, you're likely to see different patterns. That's because how the male and female inbreds are planted varies upon the hybrids. I rode a couple rounds the other day with a farmer planting two inbreds at the same time. The male was in every fourth box. Actually, to make it come out correctly. One outside box was set at half rate, and he had to plant back into that row a second time to get it right. So he was really planting 15 and one-half rows at a time. To make sure he got back in the row and stayed there, he used a camera focused on that row with a display monitor in the cab.
What's more common is to hear seed producers talking about the need to plant the female, then come back in some many days and plant the male. Some use regular planters. Others have specialized equipment to accomplish this. One farmer has a toolbar that would accommodate 16 row units, with only four row units on it. That allows him to go back in and plant the male delay corn where the female corn has already been planted.
Getting the nick right for male and female inbreds is both art and science, and depends upon the inbred. At least some companies don't tell growers which hybrids they are producing. But every grower knows some are harder to produce than others. Most seed companies provide a field man to work with the grower. He's often there when the crop is planted, partly to make sure the correct differences are left from seed to commercial corn or sweet corn.
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