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Corn Kernel Depth, Size a Huge Factor in Yield

Corn Kernel Depth, Size a Huge Factor in Yield
Corn yield can swing many bushels either way on kernel size.

Yesterday we introduced you to Hybrid A from a small field, with 14 rows of kernels per ear, averaging 38 kernels per row. There is also Hybrid B, with 16 to 18 rows of kernels consistently and 40 kernels per row. Harvest stand counts for both averaged around 29,000 plants per acre.

Walking the plots to do stand counts, Hybrid B appeared to be the clear winner, by at least 20 and possibly up to 40 bushels or more per acre. That's based on the consistent difference in number of rows of kernels per ear.

Related: Kernel Depth Partly Responsible for Big Corn Yields

Big clue: Note the big difference in kernel depth once the ears are broken in two. Hybrid A is on the left.

The plot was harvested a few days ago. It's a good thing I'm not a betting person! Before you read the results, there is a caveat. The yield monitor was calibrated while running the field. All but a few of the passes of each hybrid were weighed in a grain cart with scales. What you are about to read is based on weights, with extrapolation for the few plots of one hybrid where the combine was dialed in to half a percent error.

The bottom line is that these are unofficial results, and could vary once an expert reviews the yield monitor information. However, it's unlikely the comparison between the two hybrids overall will change much.

And the winning hybrid was…..drumroll, please….neither! Based on total weights harvested, it appears to be a dead heat! The entire eight acres, four acres of each, may come down to a bushel or less total, not per acre. In a scientist's world, that's about as dead even as you can get.

Related: Don't Base Bragging Rights on Yield Monitor Data

So what happened? Hybrid A yielded more than expected, and Hybrid B yielded less, based on estimates using the yield formula at various factors that represent kernels per bushel of volume.

The clue came when breaking the ears in half. It's easy to tell that the kernels on Hybrid A are much deeper and larger than those of Hybrid B. The factor that seems to fit Hybrid A best is somewhere between 70 and 75, for a yield somewhere between 205 and 220 bushels per acre. The formula that appears to fit hybrid B is 90 or slightly higher. The final yield for both should wind up around 210 to 215 bushels per acre, depending upon final calibration results.

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