As the economics of corn drive more farmers to move toward corn-on-corn production, they are often faced with additional challenges not typically encountered in a traditional corn-soybean rotation. In order to maximize the potential for high yields in corn-on-corn, farmers need to focus on several agronomic factors.
“While a traditional corn-soybean rotation is often the best way to minimize agronomic challenges, many factors encourage farmers to cultivate corn-on-corn, and the number of acres has risen dramatically in recent years,” says Ty Vaughn, Monsanto’s corn product management lead. “However, there are a number of consequences to this practice, and increased attention to agronomic practices is required in growing corn on corn.”
This summer in heavy corn rootworm pressure areas Monsanto plans to host a number of corn-on-corn clinics focusing on some of the agronomic factors associated with corn-on-corn production. Agronomic factors that need to be considered in corn-on-corn production include, but are not limited to, residue management, seedbed preparation, soil fertility, weed control, disease pressure and insect pressure.
“Because every field is unique, we encourage growers to carefully evaluate the emergence scores, disease tolerance and insect protection component of each corn hybrid when making selections for corn-on-corn acres,” says Vaughn.
Hybrids incorporating Bt proteins for insect protection and traits to provide herbicide tolerance have been shown to help alleviate the stresses that the environment places on corn-on-corn production. Healthier plants can withstand greater environmental stress, which typically results in higher yields.
Insect control is particularly key, and a critical pest in corn-on-corn production is corn rootworm.
“Farmers who choose to plant corn-on-corn need to ensure they understand the importance of integrated pest management practices when managing high corn rootworm populations on-farm,” says Luke Samuel, Monsanto’s corn insect product development manager. “History has shown us that hard-to-control weeds and insects may require a combination of practices to help manage them, but the end result is to increase effectiveness and yields.”
Scouting is an integral part of insect management, according to Samuel. Because adult corn rootworm beetle counts help estimate the extent of corn rootworm larval damage a farmer might expect the next year, Monsanto recommends field scouting for adult corn rootworm beetles during the key months of July and August when peak corn rootworm flight activity occurs.
“If a farmer is experiencing heavy pressure and unexpected feeding, the best choice is to rotate to soybeans next season,” says Samuel, “but that may not be a choice farmers can or are willing to make given the economics. Planting pyramided products, like Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete™ corn blend, using an insecticide on single mode of action products or even considering an adult program to limit the amount of egg-laying females later in the season are all potential tools in heavily infested areas.”
Monsanto offers a wide selection of corn products with different hybrid characteristics and trait packages that can be planted successfully in a corn-on-corn situation, and Monsanto’s seed dealers, sales representatives or agronomists work with growers to understand the circumstances and the history of their fields to provide solutions that maximize productivity every year.