Hybrid corn was the topic of discussion at the Hotel Pattee for the weekly luncheon meeting of the Perry Kiwanis Club. David Thompson, national sales and marketing director for Stine Seed Co., presented a program on high-density corn.
Thompson has worked with Stine Seed Co. for 19 years and was raised south of Minburn.
In the 1930s open-pollinated corn plants averaged 12 to 15 feet tall, Thompson explained to the lunching Kiwanians. Today corn is much shorter and planted in 30-inch rows. The goal of corn genetics is to reduce the biomass of plants and increase the number of plants on an acre of land, thus increasing grain production.
In 1930 an acre of land would contain 7,000 corn plants. Today an acre of land contains 35,000 to 36,000 corn plants per acre. In 1930, an average acre of land would produced 40 to 60 bushels of corn per acre and was picked by hand. Today an average yield of corn on an acre of land is 200 bushels.
Thompson said the goal is to put even more plants on an acre of land, thus further increasing the yield, even up to 70,000 plants per acre. The role of Stine Seed Co., Thompson said, is to work with genetics to increase production of grain per acre of land.
He said Stine has many test plots. On these test plots, they overpopulate the land with corn plants to see what will happen. Too many plants in a specified area of land will cause the plants to collapse. Stine works to see how more plants can be added and notice what works and what doesn’t.
Farmers want shorter plants with less biomass, more grain and increased stability of plants. More upright leaves are desired because the plants then can absorb more sun and thus be healthier. It is desired that plants flower earlier and silk before pollen shed.
Thompson discussed row spacing. Is is called equidistant spacing, calculating how much space you need between rows and also between plants. Now you need at least six inches between plants or you will face collapse.
According to the Stine Seed Co. website, “In 2014 Stine introduced the HP Twin 20 Planting System. This system employs twin rows based on 20-inch centers, with 12 inches of spacing between rows and eight inches separating each pair of twin rows.”
It is also called Twin 20’s. About 100 growers in the U.S. are now using this system. It is believed that 300 bushel per acre corn will be possible with this method.
Stine Seed Co. currently grows crops in Guyana, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Thompson said it takes seven growing seasons to get a genetic trait to develop in seed. In the U.S. it would take seven seasons to do this. In Guyana they have four growing seasons. It now takes less than two years to develop a genetic trait when growing in Guyana.
Founder Harry Stine of Stine Seeds Co. is very well known for his work with soybeans. He believes the work being done with increasing corn production per acre of land will be even greater.
Thompson challenged the Kiwanis members to start paying attention to corn fields and how they are laid out. In the near future, there will a lot of noticeable changes in terms of how farmers plant fields, he predicted.
Thompson was welcomed to the meeting by 20-year Kiwanian Ron Harland.