Harry Stine and his seed company are so convinced they are on the right track for the future that they put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Stine Seeds first brought a 15-inch row planter to Farm Progress Shows and planted plots.
The idea was to demonstrate that some hybrids couldn't handle 50,000 or more plants per acre, but some hybrids could.
Over the past year they've developed a twin-row, 20-inch planting system. The pattern turns out to be 8 inches between the twin rows, then 12 inches between the pairs of rows. So the configuration is 12-8-12-8 and so on. It's moving ever so near equidistant spacing for corn plants.
Dave Nanda said more than 20 years ago that the future of higher corn yields was smaller ears, but 50,000 to 60,000 of them per acre. Equidistant planting would let plants best utilize sunlight. And plant breeders would need to redesign corn plants so that they were shorter and shaped more like a Christmas-tree to best utilize light and compete.
Nanda was a plant breeder at the time. Now he's a consultant with Seed Consultants, Inc.
Stine's approach puts action to the concept. The planter that plants in the twin-row, 20-inch row pattern is very real.
Actually, Stine spokespersons say that both John Deere and Great Plains made planters for them that can plant in this pattern. The company offered incentives to help farmers purchase planters to try the concept, in exchange for promising to use Stine seed for a specified time.
The spokesperson also says that there are a few of the John Deere 60-foot wide models like the one pictured here still for sale as part of the program.
And even if they are sold before you decide you want one, the Stine spokesman says that the 60-foot, twin row, 20-inch planter is now in the order book every John Deere dealer received this summer for 2016 products.
Think it's far out? More than three dozen farmers have already invested money in planters to make it work. Time will tell.