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When it comes to selecting the best corn varieties for no-till, Dean Holst maintains nothing beats having your own test plots to evaluate both hybrids and plant populations.
The LeClaire, Iowa, farmer has been no-tilling corn in 24-inch rows and soybeans in 15-inch rows since 1993.
1. Determine Best Populations
“The particular hybrid number that we started no-tilling with, Mycogen 2722, is a fully, determinate ear hybrid,” says Holst. “It wasn’t very tall, but it was tall enough for me.”
Varying the population rates with this no-till corn hybrid had a big impact on income:
• 32,000 plants per acre yielded 176 bushels per acre and grossed $373 per acre.
• A population of 34,000 plants per acre yielded 210 bushels.
• A population of 36,000 plants per acre yielded 227 bushels.
“It’s very important to have test plots on your own farm,” says Holst. “No-tilling an additional 4,000 plants yielded $60 more income per acre. We boosted our income significantly by knowing what hybrid to plant at what population.”
A sister to this variety, Mycogen 7250l, was planted at 30,000 plants per acre and yielded 213 and 235 bushels per acre. This hybrid was also no-tilled at 35,000 plants per acre and yielded 233 bushels per acre. That’s another $40 profit due to increased plant population.
“Always aim for high yields and don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon,” he says. “We have some hybrids in our plots that we’ve no-tilled at populations of 40,000 plants per acre.”