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8 Tips to Reach Corn Yield Potential



Jennifer Cox

Crop Protection Marketing Specialist,
Heritage Cooperative

Planning out the best management practices goes a long way to help you secure the best yields and return on investment when growing corn. While there are many factors involved in achieving top yields, the following top 8 tips can help you add bushels and maximize your field’s profit potential:

1. Hybrid Selection

Select hybrids from more than one maturity group for several reasons:

- Risk management and to spread out the workload at planting and harvest time. Also eliminates a stressful weather event striking the entire crop during pollination.
- Your entire crop won’t reach maturity at the same time.
- Strike a balance between reliable, consistent performers, and top-yielding genetics.

Research hybrids to understand how they yield across environments to get the most predictable data possible. When you consult your local Heritage Cooperative sales agronomist, ask to see the “Response-To Scores” for variables like traits, planting population, nitrogen utilization, plant health scores, and more. This will allow you to fine-tune management plans based on seed selection.

2. Seed Treatments

Invest in a professionally applied seed treatment to protect against diseases, insect pests, and nematodes to get young corn plants off to a good start. To protect against early-season pests, such as wireworms, white grubs and chinch bugs, as well as provide broad-spectrum protection against nematodes, consider a systemic seed treatment component along with a biological mode of action for dual protection.

3. Season-Long Weed Control

Manage grass and broadleaf weeds early. Plant into weed-free fields using pre-plant and pre-emergence residual herbicides. Always aim to control weeds before they reach 3 inches in height. Larger weeds are more difficult to control and compete aggressively with corn seedlings for sunlight, soil, water, and other nutrients. If weed escapes happen, get clean with an effective post emergence herbicide.

4. Fertility

Test soil fertility levels annually, or at least on a regular rotation. Add phosphate and/or potassium to help boost corn yields when soil tests indicate the need. Proper nitrogen fertilizer practices are critical for high-yielding corn. Determine the best nitrogen rate and timing by balancing the rate of uptake needed for the crop to thrive during key growth and how much nitrogen can be lost during wet weather. Did you know that every hybrid responds to nitrogen differently? Understanding your hybrid’s response can help you optimize this input cost.

5. Planting

Consider geography, weather, and individual field conditions such as drainage when deciding when to plant. We have to live with the decisions we make at planting all season long. Corn likes to be planted into warm, moist soils. But it’s a fine line. Mudding it in can put you at risk for yield reduction due to poor stands, and can cause soil compaction issues later in the season.

6. Scouting

Check fields early and often for emerging weeds, diseases and insects to help guide treatment decisions, and economic thresholds. Season-long management of weed, disease, and insect pests in corn will aid your goal for best return on investment at the end of the growing season. Taking a proactive approach with tissue testing can keep you ahead of the curve. Want a few more eyes on your field? Heritage’s Crop Advantage works hard scouting for these pests, keeping you informed.

7. Plant Health

Proactively plan to use fungicides to manage for optimum plant health. Planned fungicide use helps prevent disease pressure from negatively impacting yields, especially in a no-till situation with higher residue or in fields that were planted to corn the year prior. Did you know that each hybrid has a different response to fungicide? Understanding the differences of your hybrid’s specific response can help you optimize this input.

8. Resistance Management

Now more than ever, we need to use diversified management practices to manage resistance to herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. Select products from different classes of chemistries that attack multiple, effective sites of action. Aim to use three effective modes of action for any weed-management program. This strategy consists of layering residuals and post-emergent herbicides. The post-emergent herbicides should be applied in a timely manner and offer another residual to protect against later-emerging weeds. Be sure reach out to your local Heritage Cooperative retail agronomist to make sure you’re building a sustainable plan.

Have you considered all of these things as planters are preparing to roll in Ohio? Stay tuned to see how being nimble with this plan and using in-season data can make the most of your potential.