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Grow 18% More Silage!

As narrow row corn moves from an idea to mainstream practices, this extension agent says narrower rows are your best bet for no-till silage.

Even if you’re brand-new to the no-till corn scene, you’re well aware of the row spacing debate. Some folks swear 30-inch corn is the best spacing. Others are staunch defenders of the 15- or 20-inch plan. And still others maintain 7-inch twin rows is the wave of the future and we might as well get used to it.

Used to it or not, these spacings and the research behind them have made much progress compared to our grandfather’s old standby of 40-inch rows. But the debate continues, boiling down to one key issue: yield.

As if this weren’t enough, there’s one more monkey wrench thrown into the formula. What about silage and the impact on stalk yield? Do row spacings have an adverse affect on this crop?

Jim Leverich, agronomy and farm management agent of the University of Wisconsin in Sparta, Wis., after a few years of closely studying row widths and its affects on silage yield sums it up in two words: You bet.

Why Ultra-Narrow Rows?

While silage is mostly raised by dairy and beef producers, Leverich says many dairymen are no-tilling silage and some no-tillers are contracting silage to dairies. This would suggest that the highest yield potential is the goal for silage growers, making ultra narrow rows a valuable option.

“We already know the benefits of narrow row corn,” he says. “It increases yields, reduces weed competition, increases water efficiency, increases efficiency of sunlight use and reduces plant stress.”

Knowing this, Leverich set out to see…

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