You want to see the canopy closed in a corn field as quickly as possible. That's why Dave Nanda talks about the value of higher populations and equidistant spacing in narrower rows to increase corn yields in the future.
Nanda, Director of Genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., is a firm believer in doing whatever you can to get the canopy closed as early in the season as possible. That includes early planting, which is relative this year since it was a wet spring in many areas.
The Crop Watch '14 field was planted May 4, which is early for 2014 in the area where it's located. That helped set the stage for canopy closure earlier in the season.
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The reason canopy closure early in the season is so important, Nanda says, is because of the amount of energy available at that time in the season. The peak amount of energy comes in May and June. If the canopy is covering the rows, it can intercept the maximum amount of light and make more food through photosynthesis. The net result should be more yield potential.
When planting is delayed or other factors affect canopy closure, the full factory is not operating when the available sunlight is at the maximum level, he notes. Sunlight that hits the bare soil instead of a green leaf is lost potential.
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In this case in the Crop Watch '14 field, most of the field is growing rapidly and is dark green. Nitrogen was applied pre-plant. However, a few spots where water ponded and held back plants isn't growing as quickly as the rest of the field. One effect is that there is more bare ground showing because the rows aren't touching yet, creating a complete green canopy to intercept as much light as possible.
In theory, these areas might yield less. Many other factors can influence yield, but date to canopy is one of them, Nanda believes.