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Early-season Problems Show Up in Late-Season Stand Counts

When hybrids consistently miss target population, there's a reason.

Stand counts at the Corn Illustrated plots near Edinburgh, Ind., revealed interesting trends. Dave Nanda, consultant for the project and president of Bird Hybrids, LLC, Tiffin, Ohio, recently counted the final stand in each plot of the population study. It will likely be harvested first, although harvest may be approximately three weeks away.

The plot included planting rates ranging from 26,000 to 35,000 kernels per acre. Two hybrids were included in the plot, and it was replicated once. The second replication was randomized to help reduce the chance that field variation could influence the results of the test.

Jim Facemire, the farmer who planted the plot May 5, says there was a distinct difference in how the two hybrids emerged. Several days of cool, wet weather put hybrids to the test for germination. One hybrid emerged much quicker and at a more uniform rate.

Trends were obvious when the stand counts were made. For one hybrid, the count was consistently equal to or higher than the intended target population at each different planting rate. That held true in both replication, with only one exception, where the stand once fell below the planting rate.

But for the other hybrid, the stand count was consistently lower than the target population. The difference between the two hybrids, side by side, was typically 4 to 7,000 plants per acre, at each planting rate level.

"The problem is that's 4,000 to 7,000 ears per acre," Nanda says. "It may be hard for the thinner hybrid to compensate for the absence of that many ears. More ears is where a big chunk of the population gains are made."

Other observations included firing due to lack of nitrogen deficiency on both hybrids, even on leaves above the ears. The plot took more than 20 inches of rain by June 30, possibly enough to leach nitrogen either below where roots could get it, or completely out of the soil profile, since the soil turns to coarse sand and gravel at about a depth of three feet.

Ear size seemed comparable between the two hybrids, even though one was thinner than the other at almost every turn. However, no accurate counts of row numbers per ear or ear number per row on various ears were made,.

"The combine will tell the real story," Nanda says. "But now we have more pieces to the puzzle that might help explain what we se alter, rather than if we hadn't checked final population for each hybrid."

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