11 September 1998

Even spacing better

GROWING maize with more evenly spaced plants and higher plant populations could increase crop yields by over 15%.

Simon Draper, MGA agronomist, told National Forage Maize Day visitors that UK maize yields could increase using different row spacings and plant populations. This is made possible by increased use of Kemper type harvesting headers.

Using a rate of 130,000 seeds a hectare (52,000/acre) – 30% higher than a conventional seed rate – for plants sown in narrow 32cm (13in) rows achieved a 10% greater crop yield in trials last year. But cob size and maturity decreased.

Crops were also drilled in narrow rows using a seed rate of 160,000/ha (64,000/acre). These yielded 13% more than a conventional seed rate. Although plants drilled at this high seed rate had smaller leaves and cobs, total starch yield increased.

Use of French rows – alternate 32cm (13in) and 75cm (30in) rows – at 130,000/ha (52,000/acre) produced a 15% yield increase compared with a conventional seed rate. This year a seed rate of 160,000/ha (64,000/acre) is also being trialled in French rows. This crop is dense and cobs are small, but it is possible it will produce a yield response.

But this years poor growing conditions could easily result in lower yields from these high seed rates. But when yields are greater it will indicate good potential for higher seed rates, concluded Mr Draper.

Maize yield increases are possible with higher seed rates, says Simon Draper.