Optimizing Plant Population Is Key To Higher Yield Potential

JOE BUNCK

LUBBOCK, TEXAS
   Maximizing yield and profit potential requires placing the best seed product on each field at its optimal planting population. Today we are better able to understand which corn products are perform in higher plant densities, and which ones prefer lower plant densities. Over the last two decades, rising plant populations have provided an increase in yield potential to farmers across the Corn Belt. 
   Planting population and seeding rate are often used interchangeably. What is most important at harvest, is the number of ears per acre. Planting population is the starting point for achieving the desired ear count in a field or management zone.  Generally, a good rule of thumb for seeding rates is to plant at a rate that is five percent above the desired plant population depending upon the current seeding environment. Stand loss from cool and wet soils or conditions that could cause delayed emergence can reduce the final stand count, thus affecting the ear count in the field at harvest. In any case consult with your Channel Seedsman to develop an agronomic plan that best fits your field, product and yield expectations.









   It’s easy to fall into a routine of planting the same population across all fields, especially when the previous year’s practices were successful. A potentially limiting yield factor may be the final ear count, driven by the beginning planting population. Product research is continual and resulted in an easy-to-access tool called the Channel Population Optimizer, located at Channel.com, to help determine the best plant population for each product based on our overall research. To support the management recommendations at Channel.com/PopulationOptimizer, Monsanto’s Product Characterization Team evaluates the effects of planting population on yield potential across multiple yield environments. 
   The data underpinning the Channel Population Optimizer comes from a specialized research planter developed by Monsanto that allows Monsanto researchers to organize and precisely manage seed and information for field trials. This fully-automated planter has the capacity to evaluate multiple populations of hybrids at multiple row widths at a single testing location. This capability leads to more than 4,300 unique cell rows of seed in a single research field, allowing Monsanto to make more than 100,000 yield observations in one season. The massive amount of data collected from testing programs using the specialized research machinery can aid farmers in selecting the right products and planting populations to help achieve maximum yield and profit potential. ∆
   JOE BUNCK: Channel Agronomist

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