Submitted to: Crop Management
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2009
Publication Date: 2/24/2009
Publication URL: doi:10.1094/CM-2009-0224-02-RS
Citation: Lyon, D.J., Pavlista, A.D., Hergert, G.W., Klein, R.N., Shapiro, C.A., Knezevic, S., Mason, S.C., Nelson, L.A., Baltensperger, D.D., Elmore, R.W., Vigil, M.F., Schlegel, A.J., Olson, B.L., Aiken, R.M. 2009. Skip-row Planting Patterns Stabilize Corn Grain Yields in the Central Great Plains. Crop Management. doi:10.1094/CM-2009-0224-02-RS. Interpretive Summary: For dryland farmers in the Central Great Plains region (CGPR) mitigating the deleterious effects of drought on crop production continues to be their greatest challenge. Skip-row planting of corn has recently developed as a strategy for mitigating drought in the dryland regions of the CGPR. Here we compare 23 site-years of no-till corn grain yields when planted skip-row and when planted conventionally across Nebraska, Kansas and Eastern Colorado. The idea is that a wider row arrangement forces a change in the timing of soil-water availability and use, which may mitigate drought stress during the critical flowering period. Three alternative planting schemes were investigated and compared to planting in conventional 0.76m rows (30 inch rows). These were plant 2 rows, skip 2 rows (P2S2); plant 1, skip 1 (P1S1); and a plant 2, skip 1 (P2S1). Corn plots were seeded with roundup ready hybrids in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Each site included variable plant population in combination with alternative planting arrangements. There exists a trend for the alternative planting arrangements to yield higher than conventionally planted corn and sorghum when yields are less than 3500 kg ha-1 (50-60 bushels/acre). The effect is not always statistically significant. We did not observe either a disadvantage or an advantage if yields potentials are greater than this up to at least 5000 kg ha-1 (80 bushels/acre) and observed a yield decrease at yields greater thatn 135 bushels/acre. An analysis of these data would suggest, that the alternative planting arrangements show potential for greater yields in dryer areas and/or in dry years where yields are less than 3500 kg ha-1 (56 bushel).
Technical Abstract: The highly variable climate of the Central Great Plains makes dryland corn (Zea mays) production a risky enterprise. Twenty-three field trials were conducted across the Central Great Plains from 2004 through 2006 to quantify the effect of various skip-row planting patterns and plant populations on grain yield in dryland corn production. A significant planting pattern by plant population interaction was observed at only one of 23 trials, suggesting that planting pattern recommendations can be made largely irrespective of plant population. In trials where skip-row planting patterns resulted in increased grain yields compared to the standard planting pattern treatment (every row planted using a 30-inch row spacing), the mean grain yield for the standard planting treatment was 44 bushels/acre. In those trials where skip-row planting resulted in decreased grain yield compared to the standard planting pattern, the mean yield was 135 bushels/acre. The plant two rows, skip two rows planting pattern is recommended for risk-averse growers in the Central Great Plains where field history or predictions suggest likely grain yields of 75 bushels/acre or less. Planting one row and skipping one row is recommended for growers with moderate risk-aversion and likely yield levels of 100 bushels/acre or less.