Twin Row Corn Silage Research Plot Results

Mr. Stephen Foster, Extension Educator, Darke County, The Ohio State University 

Steve Foster and Harold Watters, both Agricultural Educators for Ohio State University Extension, have been conducting twin-row corn production research plots at the Darke County Research Farm for the last 3 years. Last year, they were asked if corn planted at high populations in a twin row system would be beneficial for corn silage production, so this year they planted a test plot that compared 2 different dual purpose corn hybrids at populations of 34,000 seeds per acre and 50,000 seeds per acre in 30 inch rows and twin rows.

A Great Plains Precision Plant no-till drill was used to plant the "30" and "twin row" plots. The Precision Plant drill has a seeding mechanism capable of handling seed corn reasonably well. The twin row plots were set up on 30-inch centers, with two rows 7.5 inches apart every 30 inches. Plot sizes planted were 15 feet wide by 300 feet long, with 10 feet of the middle harvested (center four rows of six) for corn yield comparisons.

The hybrids were chosen based on their characteristics as a dual purpose variety (silage and grain production). Croplan DS107 with Cruiser is a 107-day relative maturity hybrid that has a high tonnage per acre and a high dry matter digestibility rating. It also has a medium high population rating by Croplan. The Seed Consultant SC1082 with Maxim XL is a 112-day relative maturity hybrid with high ratings for grain quality and test weight. It also is ranked high for stress tolerance and it's recommended planting populations for soils with greater than 15 cation exchange capacity (CEC) is 28,000 to 31,000 seeds per acre.

Planting was done on May 7th and harvest for the silage plots was conducted on September 7th and 12th, 2005. A hand harvested sample was taken from 1/1000th of an acre from each of the 4 replications. The samples were then chopped weighed. Silage samples were collected and analyzed for dry matter (DM) content, NDF, and CP concentrations by The Ohio State University, Department of Animal Sciences. On November 22, 2005, harvesting of all plots was done with a Case IH combine; yield and moisture were determined with an on-board yield monitor.

Data analysis of the plots indicated that there were no significant differences among any of the treatments for tons of 100% DM produced per acre. The range of 100% DM was 8.81 to 10.03 tons/ac. There also was no difference among the treatments for concentrations of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and crude protein (CP). The NDF ranged from 52.49 to 60.84% and the CP ranged from 7.59 to 8.52%.

There was, however, differences among the treatments for corn grain yield. Hybrid DS107 planted at 34k seeds/ac out yielded the DS107 planted at 50k seeds/ac in both the twin row and 30" row plots. Hybrid SC1082 planted at 34k in twin row plots out yielded the twin row plots planted at 50k seeds/ac. Croplan DS107 yielded better at 34k population than the plots planted at 50k seeds/ac in 30" rows. There was no difference between the plots of SC1082 planted in 30" rows and twin rows, planted at 34k and 50k seeds/ac (Table1).

Table 1. Corn grain yields for two hybrids in two different planting systems
at two different seeding rates, Greenville, Ohio, 2005.

Yield (bu/ac)1
TR DS107-34k
TR DS107-50k
TR SC1082-34k
TR SC1082-50k
30 DS107-34k
30 DS107-50k
30 SC1082-34k
30 SC1082-50k

1TR = twin row
2P < 0.10; least significant difference = 11.02 bu/ac.

Although this study did not indicate any improvement in planting corn silage at high populations and in a twin row system, weather may have been an issue. Extremely hot and dry weather was experienced during the pollination and kernel development stages. As with most on-farm studies, more than one year of data are usually required to determine accurate results of different treatments. Additional studies using different hybrids, under a variety of weather conditions, may be required to prove if this system is beneficial to corn silage production.