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Monday, January 20, 2014

Narrow Rows

One of the discussion groups that I joined last week was on narrow rows.  The discussion included both corn and soybeans.  Marion Calmer was in the room and shared a lot of information and experience.  Many in the room were looking to hear about the experience of others.  Just about every spacing was represented.  Some had twins, some  had 20 inch rows, and some had 30 inch rows.  Heat and air circulation were discussed.  In 2012 there were some who said that narrow row corn had lower yields than 30 inch rows because of heat and circulation.  I also knew some who had no ill effects by the heat.  Several of those in the room had looked at temperature in narrow rows vs 30 inch rows.  Those who had actual readings said the narrow rows were 1 degree cooler.  Experienced people seemed to think that the narrow rows did better in dry years because of better root distribution.  During the conference, some of the experts were leary of twin rows.  In the discussion, those in twins seemed to be happy with them.  Dr. Fred Below said in one of  his sessions that he thinks the future of corn lies in narrower rows.  Mr. Calmer would agree.  Everyone seemed to understand that narrow row corn currently shows no advantage among researchers.

Discussion shifted to narrow row soybeans.  Mr. Calmer shared his research data.  He said that narrower is always better in soybeans.  Calmer is using 15 inch rows for his production acreage.  He is also planting extremely low populations of soybeans.  He says that yield get progressively better from 30 to 20 to 15 to drilled soybeans with populations staying the same.  Calmer has lots of research to determine his highest profit systems and he says that the cost of seed is a determining factor in soybeans populations.

The more I hear on the subject the more I am leaning toward 15 or 20 inch rows for both corn and soybeans.  I would qualify that by saying that if you are already planting narrow row soybeans, then there may be no advantage to making the switch unless you need a new corn head.  The reason I would go narrow is for ease of changing over the planter from corn to soybeans and to take advantage of the yield advantage in the narrow row soybeans.  I am not aware of any research that does not show an advantage to narrow row soybeans, so if you are still doing 30 inch row soybeans, make the switch.

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