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Higher pops, twin rows gain edge in trial

For Josh Thornsbrough, the results speak for themselves. In 11 out of 12 trials, twin rows outyielded traditional 30-inch row spacing in corn.

Thornsbrough, a Dyna-Gro division seed manager, conducted the first-year trial in conjunction with Monsanto as part of an initiative to market seed with specific production practices.

“Today, more farmers seem to be trying out twin rows and increased plant populations,” he explains. “Thus, we need data that shows farmers how our products respond to these production methods.”

Thornsbrough used a 2.4-acre plot on his father’s farm, which is located near Alvin in Vermilion County. Using three different triple-stack hybrids, each with Monsanto traits, the trial included four different plant populations, each with twin rows (on 30-inch centers) and traditional 30-inch rows.

The test plots received 200 pounds of nitrogen, the majority of which was spring-applied anhydrous ammonia. No fungicide was used, but the plots did receive one pass of glyphosate.

The plots were planted on May 28 and harvested on Dec. 2. On average, the twin rows outyielded the standard rows by 11.8 bushels per acre. In the one instance where the standard rows prevailed, they won by 2.3 bushels. The top yielder was Hybrid A at 220.3 bushels, with a plant population of 38,000.

Not only did the data point out the promise of twin rows, but they also showed there’s definitely a sweet spot for plant population. In most instances, 38,000 plants per acre were the top yielders.

Thornsbrough made some other observations. “The twin-row plots shaded the row over a few days sooner than the standard rows,” he adds. As for harvest, it was just as easy to pick the twin rows as it was the standard rows. “I used the same 30-inch corn header across the board, and it worked just fine,” he notes.

Next year, Thornsbrough hopes to replicate the study with a much larger test plot. In addition, he thinks the yields were a tad low, largely because of the late planting date.

Key Points

• Twin rows outyield conventional rows in Vermilion County.

• Twin-row plot data show higher yields at 38,000 plants per acre.

• Great Plains Mfg. planted a total of 63 such plots across the U.S.

Planting twins

The plots in this trial were planted with a four-row Great Plains Mfg. planter. Doug Jennings, Great Plains regional sales manager, oversaw the planting of 63 such plots, all with Monsanto traits. “The trials went from Minnesota to Mississippi and Kansas to Ohio,” Jennings says.

As of press time, the data for all of the plots was still being compiled. However, Jennings expects the twin rows to win out in nearly all instances. “We have 11 years of data that shows a yield advantage when using twin rows,” he notes.

According to Jennings, an 11.8-bushel advantage is typical. “The advantage of twin rows becomes clearer when you push populations over 35,000,” he adds. “At those numbers, you’ve got to give the plant more space to grow.”

For smaller growers looking to switch to twin rows, Great Plains is releasing a four-, six-, and eight-row twin-row planter in 2010. While the four-row is primarily for the research market, Jennings expects the six- and eight-row models to find a niche with small growers.

“Say, for instance, a guy is milking 200 cows and wants to get a little more forage out of his current acreage; a twin-row planter could be the answer,” Jennings adds.

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TWIN-ROW TRIALS: Crop Production Services’ Josh Thornsbrough saw an 11.8-bushel yield advantage with twin rows.

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.