Will the industry standard of 30-inch row corn planting ever narrow, and what will drive that change? Discovery that it is profitable would help drive the change and that’s the focus of Beck’s Hybrid’s research currently underway. Jason Webster is the Practical Farm Research Innovation Lead for Beck’s. He told HAT the switch from 36” and 38” rows to 30 happened about 40 years ago.
“We’ve been monitoring this whole row width thing in corn trying to see if maybe we need to make the shift to narrows again,” he said. “I know some growers have done it in the past and some it worked out and some it didn’t. But I just wonder if we’re at a point in time where we have the right genetic packages that like narrow rows. And we’re getting more people in the world, we’re going to have to feed more people and increase yields, so if we’re going to raise 300 bushel corn in the future can we do in 30” rows or do we have to go narrower. So that’s why we’re testing narrow rows compared to the industry standard 30’s.”
Webster says the testing for narrow row planting needs to be done with one planter.
“So we’re going to take some of the platforms we’ve used with multi-hybrid planting, changing corn hybrids on the fly, but I want to look at it and address changing row width in different environments. So we want to look at hybrid performance, seeding rate performance, and I just think this project is going to be great. One planter, 30’s and 20’s on the same toolbar. Every pass through the field we’ll have a clean, pure comparison and we’ll evaluate the hybrid selection, the seeding rate, the leaf architecture on all of these hybrids in a wide vs. a narrow row, and then we’ll start to address some things like nutrient management. How do we side dress narrow row corn?”
He says they’ll be sharing that experience by showing growers how they side dress narrow row corn. Beck’s will also bring in multi-directional corn heads at harvest. Webster told HAT there is already 7 years of data from PFR research using 2 different planters. But with the new equipment coming on board they’ll want another 3 years at a minimum to collect and analyze the data.
Hear more in the HAT interview:Jason Webster-Narrow Rows