Take a closer look at corn next season

Pay attention to the numbers


In this day and age, technology offers growers the ability to monitor their fields throughout the growing season. As UAVs, satellite imagery and advanced camera systems have become popular tools for scouting and monitoring in-season plant health, it’s good to get out in the field and take a look at corn growth during the growing season.


“There are a lot of stresses out there, and we often find ourselves looking for the next silver bullet,” said Jeremy Hogan, BASF Technical Marketing Agronomist. “We need to often step back, and really understand the four physiological yield components that contribute to corn yields, and then minimize any man-made, biotic or abiotic stresses that may influence them.”


Hogan notes the four physiological yield components growers should keep an eye on include:


1.     Number of plants per acre


2.     Number of rows per ear


3.     Number of kernels per row


4.     Maximizing kernel size and weight


Number of plants per acre  

Another way of thinking about the number of plants per acre is maximizing the number of harvestable ears per acre.


“When we think about maximizing yield with ear count, it’s important to get off to a good start with uniform emergence and proper spacing,” said Hogan.


There are factors along the way that can impact how successful a plant is at getting out of the ground. For example, if the plant has to grow around residue, it may have delayed emergence. This could have an impact on the yield as the crop has to expend inefficient energy. Crop protection products like in-furrow fungicides and seed treatments can help improve seedling emergence


.Number of rows per ear


While the number of rows per ear is pre-genetically determined in corn hybrids, there are stresses that can have a negative impact that growers may not account for. 


“If we don’t manage stresses that may impact corn along the way, we could have a plant that goes from 20 around down to 18 around,” said Hogan.


One of the obvious stresses that may impact young corn plants is weed pressure. If weeds are competing with a plant for nutrients when the row number is being determined, then, this added competition can have a staggering effect on the development of corn. Spraying a herbicide can be a good defense against weeds.


“A grower could lose up to 20 bushels per acre when a set of rows is lost,” said Hogan, further emphasizing the importance of maximizing the number of rows per ear whenever possible.


Number of kernels per row


The number of kernels within those rows are important for achieving maximum grain fill. To attain maximum number of kernels per row, it’s imperative to have healthy plants at pollination.


“Eliminating stress prior to, during and after pollination is absolutely critical,” said Hogan. “A good plant nutrition program in the soil and from a foliar standpoint can help better position growers against stress when the plant gets to that point during pollination.”


Corn silks are important for pollination, but some pests like cornroot worm beetles eat away at the silks, reducing plant growth. Using an insecticide like Fastac® SC insecticide may help mitigate this unwanted stress from the crop.


Maximizing kernel size and weight


“We found in 2017 that in much of the Corn Belt, kernel size and weight had a huge influence on overall yield,” said Hogan. “Paying attention to plant nutrition and protecting the plant during the home stretch can help extend grain fill, and pack more weight and carbs into the kernels.”


Adding in a product like Headline AMP® fungicide to growers’ crop protection plans can help them not only extend grain fill by controlling diseases, but it can also provide additional plant health benefits such as  stress tolerance and growth efficiency. 


While the list of things growers need to pay attention to may seem like it’s never ending, keeping these four components in mind can help them better manage the stresses they encounter throughout the season.


To learn more about the BASF corn portfolio, click here


Always read and follow label directions.


Fastac and Headline AMP are registered trademarks of BASF.


About BASF’s Crop Protection division


With a rapidly growing population, the world is increasingly dependent on our ability to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture and healthy environments. BASF’s Crop Protection division works with farmers, agricultural professionals, pest management experts and others to help make this possible. With their cooperation, BASF is able to sustain an active R&D pipeline, an innovative portfolio of products and services, and teams of experts in the lab and in the field to support customers in making their businesses succeed. In 2016, BASF’s Crop Protection division generated sales of €5.6 billion. For more information, please visit us at www.agriculture.basf.com or on any of our social media channels.


About BASF


BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has nearly 17,500 employees in North America, and had sales of $16.2 billion in 2016. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit www.basf.us.


At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The approximately 114,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of about €58 billion in 2016. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (BAS). Further information at www.basf.com.