Iganacio Ciampitti – Corn Production

(Ignacio) Good morning everyone. I’m Ignacio Ciampitti, Cropping Assistant, Cropping Production Specialist, K-State Department of Agronomy. Today we are in our last Kansas Corn School. So, these were a series of two schools that we just put together with the Kansas Corn Commission and the Pioneers, one of our many sponsors. The goal of the schools was trying to summarize some of the information we have today about corn practices, economics, weed control, and then also fertilization for providing this information to farmers. One of the first points and main things that I would like to talk to you today is about limiting factors. And what are the main limiting factors in corn? The idea of my presentations at the schools was basically trying to touch base on at least a couple of factors and show how for example, a planting date, plant populations, row spacing, plant density, crop rotation, tillage, soil fertility, nutrient management and what are used, are main limiting factors and I would try to touch base briefly in some of them. The goal is just to show how complex, corn production can be and how when we are trying to maximize yields, we need to make sure that we are plain and taking a balance of all the approaches, all factors into consideration. First one is what I would like to start is about crop rotation and tillage. And sometimes we tend to minimize inputs and the weight of those two factors. But we have very good information showing that the crop rotation, trying to get non-continuous corn, but trying to get some rotation, corn, soybean is really helping maximizing corn yields, with the idea and the goal of better weed control. And the idea of the goal of much better, for example, disease also… I mean less disease pressure. And the idea of also having not so much residue that is impeding plant emergence and uniformity in corn. And why I would like to talk about also about uniformity in corn. When you take a look at corn as compared with sorghum and soybeans, corn is a very unique one each yield plant really improves yields. So if we are missing one plant, if we don’t have any ability for the plant to branch as in soybeans, or to tiller as in sorghum. So anytime that we are missing one plant from the beginning of the season we will be missing yields. So, the idea of having a good control of a plant density how many plants and the plants to be equal distances, plant depth, how we are controlling the optimum planting depth, and then also row spacing. Those are maybe the three main factors when you are thinking about planting management. And I always try to emphasize when you are thinking about planting management I mean we are deciding the planting date. If you are trying to maximize yields planting corn as early as possible. And the question is, how early you can go? And the main two factors that we need to define there are soil temperature, I mean we need to go at least with 55 – 60 degrees in the soil at least at the four inch. And also make sure that you are not going too early, just to not to be impose the corn with a late freeze damage. Those are the main two factors of the planting date decisions. Most of the times here in northeast Kansas we are seeing planting dates, they are trying to move a little bit earlier. We are trying to go even by the first week of April, April 10th in some areas. So stay here with us, after the break we’ll be talking about seeding rates, nutrients and water, and how these factors are affecting corn production.

Welcome back. My name is Ignacio Ciampitti, I am in Cropping Assistant, Cropping Production Specialist, Kansas State University, Department of Agronomy. We will be talking about seeding rates, nutrients and water, and how these factors are affecting corn production. When you are deciding about row spacing, and the questions that I have most of the time is about can we narrow rows, can we use 15 inches rather then 30 inches? The answer to that question always is, it depends. And I have at least two questions that I would like to follow up with that point. First one, what is your yield potential? And when I am talking about yields potential, what I would like to ask the farmers is what is your maximum yield level? Are you working a 200 bushel scenario? Are you working a 250 bushel scenario? Or are you working trying to get only 150 or 100 bushels. And why I would like to ask that is just because we have information showing that maximizing corn yields, getting 200 and 250 bushel, in that case early light interception, narrow rows is really impacting corn production. In the situations that we are going to 150 or less than 150 bushels per acre, in those situations, narrowing rows is really not affecting that much corn yield and productivity. That’s one of the main things. I mean and again, everything depends on uniformity. If you are going to narrow row spacing, make sure that you have a good planter than you can just make sure that we have equal distance, good uniformity and the plants are coming all at the same time. Another big point for next coming year, seeing the price of corn would be the plant population. How many seeds per acre? And in that case, one of the only points that I would like to touch base is on optimizing seeding rate. We are not talking any more about trying to push seeding rate really high, but we are trying to talk about the idea of optimizing. When is the moment that you are getting your most net profits and benefits, from using an optimum seed population? And we have studies around the area showing that around 32,000-34,000 seeds per acre in these situations, here in northeast Kansas when we are trying to increase productivity tend to be optimal. And we are talking about probably yields of 200 and 250 bushels. So, make sure that when you are working in different scenarios and different yield levels, make sure that you are working an optimal population and you are not really being, paying an excessive seed cost, which in fact will probably not provide more yields. Then the last factors that I would like to emphasize are on the nutrient management. Always remember increasing yields is really connected to increasing nutrient uptake. So every time that we are trying to move forward yields, we need to make sure that we are applying more fertilizer. OK. Every time that you are trying to produce a 250 bushel corn, make sure that you are trying to provide a singular, equal amount of fertilizer in the form of nitrogen,and if needed, depending on the soil test phosphorus and sulfur. OK. Last point and when we are talking about the water use. We need to always remember the corn is specifically very sensitive around the flowering time. So, when you are trying to maximize yield, we are always thinking how we can place pollination and flowering time in corn, in a really good environment. And that’s very critical. So corn and water use is maximized at that specific moment, water is at the maximum and the peak. So, the question that we always have is how we can place pollination in a much better environment? And the answer for that is, like take a look to the last five years and try to investigate and do some… a little bit of research on your field what was the planting dates and what was the situation in the last five years in terms of rain, precipitation around the month of June, July and August? That’s the main recommendation when we are thinking about the water use and those are some of the main limiting factors that I will be talking, I mean on the Corn Schools. And basically again, the message that I would like try to convey is like make sure trying to plant high yielding systems that you are taking care of not only just one factor, but taking care of a series of factors just for increasing crop productivity. Thanks.

Here with you again. My name is Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Assistant, Crop Production Specialist at K-State, Department of Agronomy. And I would like to continue with you just talking about brief points of drought tolerant hybrids. What are the key points that we should know about this new technology and how we are getting some information for making a wise decision and deciding the use of this hybrid? So one of the main things that we need to know about this technology, a little bit of history, is like, we have basically this technology since probably more than 50 years. And so the question is why we are seeing more frequent seed companies are just showing this just right today. And the point for that is like climate change, high temperatures, more stress during pollination time in corn in different environments, not only in Kansas but also in the eastern section of the corn belt, we are seeing episodic very short drought periods that they can place only around pollination. And those really just maybe one day of drought or heat can affect yields around maybe 40 to 50 percent if they are being placed right at pollination. So, let me talk about, a little bit how seed companies and how we can derive this idea of drought tolerant. You basically can probably think about this drought tolerant on two different technologies. The first one would be the drought tolerant technology that is based on companies that they are just improving corn, but based on selection. Every year, and it’s a natural selection, it is not modification of anything inside of the genome. And then we have some other companies working more on the biotechnology side, which implies also modifications in that case, inside of the plant. And that’s a way that they will be gaining more kind of a true drought tolerance. So once we are seeing this distinction between different mechanisms of the drought tolerance the question is really how drought tolerance works? And we have different explanations. One of the things that we are identifying in some hybrids is that the plant tends to avoid the stress. And the question is how does the plant avoid the stress- is basically minimizing the use of water. And it is minimizing the use of water early in the season with the main goal of trying to get that water for reproactive. And it’s a very good strategy if you think about when is the moment that the corn needs more water? It’s around pollination. So when we are thinking about maximizing the use of water and make sure the corn has water accessible at that time, pollination is the right time. So if we have hybrids that are taking up water more early in the season those hybrids will be reaching flowering time without really water. And they will be very susceptible to stress. So the idea of stress avoidance, and avoid the stress is probably one of the main strategies that we are seeing on these new drought tolerant hybrids. So let’s go to the main question that you have. Are these hybrids different? Do they behave different as compared to the conventional corn hybrids? Some information that we summarize here at K-State in the last five years are basically showing that we tend to see higher benefits on using DT, the drought tolerant hybrids when the yields are below 170 bushels. So below 170 bushels we are seeing that the drought tolerant hybrids tend to maximize yields and we have a much higher benefit as compared to DT versus a conventional one. So, what happened when we are going to environments where there are more than 200 bushels and 250 bushels? In those environments of high yielding environments we are seeing drought tolerant technology is not paying off. It’s not really producing some yield reaction but it’s just yielding the same as a conventional technology. So basically the main message, summary from this is if you are in a low, minimally yielding environment think about the idea of investing in this technology and you can think of this technology as an extra insurance. You will get some extra benefit, extra bushels. When you are in a high yield environment basically we are seeing that the technology is yielding very similarly to the conventional technology. So that is the information that we collected from the DT hybrids on this new corn drought tolerance technology. So if you have any questions or anything about this technology please feel free to contact us at the Extension Office in the Agronomy Department. Thanks.

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