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Corn production after a drought PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, January 31, 2013 2:08 PM

Assistant Professor OSU-Extension Putnam County

With Iowa and Illinois still dry from the 2012 drought and relatively high corn prices, local farmers are considering raising more corn this year. University of Illinois Corn Specialist Dr. Emerson Nafziger says that corn following drought corn usually produces a good crop. Dr. Nafziger’s remarks at the Putnam County Agronomy Night are summarized in the next three paragraphs. With some possible carryover nitrogen, less corn residue, and possibly a little more water storage,corn after drought stressed corn picks up some advantages. This year, the corn got off to an excellent start with a warm dry spring, fast growth, excellent stands, and low disease pressure. However, the weather during pollination was critical and hot weather followed by low moisture hurt corn growth (especially the roots) and reduced corn pollination (Nafziger, 2013).
In general, corn following soybeans produced slightly higher yields than corn after corn. No-Till corn generally produced better than conventional tilled corn, possibly due to more water storage and deeper root penetration. Soil compaction, poor soil structure, and side wall compaction hurt corn yields in 2012 and led to some instances of “floppy corn” with inadequate root development and lodging (Nafziger 2013).
Some advertised “drought” resistant corn varieties do better but the gains are generally marginal at 5 to 6 bushels per acre. Most corn has built in traits for producing higher yields, even under drought conditions. Yields tend to maximize at a corn population of 35,000 seeds per acre and extra nitrogen did not increase corn yields. Most corn now needs about .75 pounds of nitrogen per bushel compared to 1-1.2 pounds of nitrogen per bushel required a decade ago (Nafziger, 2013).

Dr. Peter Thomison, Ohio State University Corn Specialist shares some information for Ohio in the next three paragraphs. The average state corn yield this year was 122 bushels per acre. Normal state corn yields are 160 to 165 bushels per acre. Dr. Thomison remarked that there are more corn yield differences within a maturity group than between corn maturity groups, as much as 50 bushels per acre. Early maturing corn versus late maturing corn yield about the same. The last two years, short season corn out yielded the late maturing corn due to more moisture at pollination and faster dry down in the fall. In a cold wet fall, the early maturing, short season corn has an advantage over late maturing, late season corn (Thomison, 2013).

New corn varieties have much better stalk and lodging gene qualities than previous corn varieties. The long-term corn yield increase has been 1.8 bushel gain per acre per year. Since 2000, the new corn varieties have increased corn yields by 3.3 bushels per year mainly due to increased stalk strength and lodging resistance. However, the weather also plays a factor in those corn yield increases. For Ohio, Dr. Thomison recommends a corn population of 34,000 seeds with the state average being 30,000 seeds per acre. (Thomison, 2013).

Using double haploids and new breeding gene splicing techniques, corn breeders are developing new corn hybrids much quicker. There is great turnover in corn hybrids. Less than 27 percent of the corn hybrids last 2 years, and less than 10 percent are still active after three years (Thomison, 2013).

Transgenic genetically modified (GMO) corn is the normal in the United States with 88 percent of corn now GMO versus non GMO. In Ohio, the GMO rate is 76 percent possibly due to the fact that there are some specialized markets for Non GMO corn and a high number of organic and Amish farmers who use non GMO corn. Today, approximately 60 percent of the GMO corn is triple stacked with eastern corn borer resistance, root worm resistance, and roundup ready corn (Thomison, 2013).

Important dates and meetings:
Feb. 5 - Recertification for Pesticide Applicator Training, K. C. Hall Kalida, 9 a.m. to noon
Feb. 6 - Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Meeting on Adapting to Extreme Weather, ODA, Reynoldsburg from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Feb. 11, 20, 25 Soil Health series on Cover Crops and No-Till, Putnam County Extension office, 7-9 p.m., please register.
Feb. 18th, Putnam County Pork Banquet, K.C. Hall, Kalida from 6:30-9 p.m.
March 5 and 6, Conservation Tillage Conference, Ohio Northern University, Ada, all day sessions.
Visit for more details.


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