Higher Profits Fuel Ultra-Narrow-Row Corn

Results from 1997 continued to fuel the fire that drives Marion Calmer’s research on ultra-narrow-row corn.

The Alpha, Ill., no-tiller and owner of Calmer’s Agronomic Research Center again saw yield increases with narrower rows. The data showed 15-inch-row corn averaged 6.9 bushels per acre more than 20-inch-row corn over eight replications on 25 acres, continuing a three-year trend of increased yield and profit.

“Don’t get me wrong; 20-inch rows are also a great alternative,” Calmer says. “But what I’ve learned is that the closer we can get to equidistant plant spacing, the better.”

Learning Continues

Calmer learned some valuable lessons from his research last year. His biggest mistake was using three tall, skinny tires to maneuver down narrow rows for the second consecutive year.

“I drove into the first mud hole and thought, ‘This is going to be cool,’” recalls Calmer. “The tires immediately turned into slicks. We had to dismantle the tires to get the mud out.”

Compaction Problems

The tires were 12 inches wide, 54 inches tall and ran with 30 pounds of air pressure. Com­­pounding the tires’ inability to maintain traction in mud were the narrow, deep ruts they made in the field.

“I’m going to bigger tires with low air pressure so we get a large footprint that will cut down on the soil compaction,” says Calmer. “I’m not using those skinny tires again. It was a $12,000 mistake.”

Calmer is leaning toward use of front-wheel-assisted tractors with 30 percent of the weight on the front…

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