A Recipe for Lousy-Yielding Corn
R.L. (Bob) Nielsen ,
Agronomy Department ,
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Internet address: firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of years ago, I published a
for Crappy Stands of Corn (P&C Newsletter, 10 May 1996) that
outlined how you could create a stand of corn that looked just as poor as
your neighbors. This spring, with all the hoopla about El Ninó,
I feel compelled to offer another recipe for failure for those individuals
who are intent on planning for drought even though there is no concensus
that one will occur during the 1998 growing season. The "ingredients"
of this recipe will indeed moderate the effects of a major drought and/or
lower your input costs, but will also help ensure low yields in a more
typical Indiana growing season. (see DISCLAIMER
The following recipe will prepare one helping of low grain yield. Add
more acreage as desired.
- Prepare one (1) field for planting by tilling and/or planting earlier
than normal so that you can get a jump on the season, even if it results
in severe soil compaction.
- Select one (1) or more hybrids of earlier-than-normal maturity to
ensure that pollination will occur BEFORE the major drought period in
mid-July or later. On the other hand, if the major drought will occur in
late June early July then select hybrids of later-than-normal
maturity to ensure that pollination will occur AFTER the major drought
period. If you want to hedge your bets, plant both earlier-than-normal
maturity and a later-than-normal maturity hybrids.
- Return all of your previously purchased high-priced, latest
technology, elite single-cross hybrids and instead purchase older
technology, double-cross hybrids that have lower top-end yields but are
- Reduce your normal rate of applied fertilizer, especially nitrogen,
according to the lower yields you expect to produce in a major drought
since the low yields induced by major droughts require lesser amounts of
plant nutrients. For example, if you expect half a yield, cut your
nitrogen rate by half (50 %).
- Select a seeding rate that is twenty-five percent (25 %) less than
your normal rate, to lessen the water use demands by the crop.
- Better yet, forget about growing corn and instead plant all of your
corn acres to grain sorghum since it will tolerate major droughts better
If you have not sensed the sarcasm from the preceding text, I am not much
in favor of making drastic changes to your 1998 corn cropping strategies
simply because the future weather is uncertain. From my reading of the
forecasts and predictions, it is clear to me that there is no clear
concensus among meteorologists about the impact (if any) on Indianas
weather during the next 3 6 months from the current El Ninó
event. Rather than making drastic changes to cropping strategies, I
encourage corn growers to continue implementing strategies that will help
ensure successful seedling establishment and vigorous crop growth. In
anything resembling a normal crop year, such strategies will pay off with
good yields. If a major drought should develop, a vigorous crop will be in
a better position to tolerate its effects.
For other information about corn, take a look at
the Corn Growers Guidebook on the World Wide Web at
End of Document