The talk a the Farm Progress Show in many of the trait company displays were about technologies that will either increase yield directly, or prevent yield loss, which indirectly contributes to more yield. Monsanto's Robb Fraley was the boldest, standing by his prediction of doubled corn yields, and significantly higher soybean yields, by 2030, compared to today.
Fraley acknowledged that 30-inch rows can take farmers to about 35,000 plants per acre with increasing yields. To get to higher levels, some combination of higher populations and other row patterns will be necessary, he believes. More details about his thoughts will appear in the October issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.
To go beyond that, Monsanto is looking at five populations, going at least into the 40,000 plants per acre and above range, with various hybrids at 20 and 30-inch row widths with a sophisticated, GEN 5 plot planter. But in addition, they've commissioned researchers at several universities to compare twin row plantings at various populations, including populations above 40,000 plants per acre.
"We're even taking measurements during the season on stalk size and other parameters in the twin-row plot we're doing in conjunction with them here," explains Tony Vyn, a Purdue Extension agronomist and researcher. Vyn's data will be available to the public sometime during the winter, after harvest.
Meanwhile, Great Plains Company remains convinced that twin-row corn is the wave of the future, noting that their planter sales for people wanting to try twin-rows continues to increase. Great Plains has just launched a Website devoted exclusively to twin-row corn. It contains a news release introducing farmers to twin rows, a fact sheet on twin rows,. And a power-point presentation that relates what Great Plains ahs learned about twin-row planting over the past 10 years. The site is twin-row.com.
The site is designed to help farmers interested in the concept learn more about it, officials say. One of the host farmers at the Farm Progress Show site in Decatur, Ill., has converted to 100% twin-row corn, suing a Great Plains planter. He tried it two years ago in preparation for the '07 show, and was impressed. Now he uses it on all his acres.
Not everyone is as excited about twin rows as these folks, however. In 2008 Farm Progress editors scoured the Farm Progress Show at Boone, Iowa, and put together a spread of eight favorite products. Kinze's new twin-row planter was one of the eight products featured there.
One year later, Kinze has dropped the twin-row planter from its line-up. Kinze officials at a press conference noted that they will continue to watch twin rows as a concept, but that they didn't have demand to justify keeping it in their line-up. A survey done for Kinze noted that at least 85% of corn producers were still in 30-inch rows.