Nov

29

 USDA reports the year corn production first reached these milestones:

Bushels/Acre          Year achieved

30                             1896

40                             1948

50                             1958

60                             1961

70                             1965

80                             1967

90                             1972

100                           1978

110                           1982

120,130                    1992

140                           2003

150,160                    2004

170                           2014

180*est                     2022

190*est                     2027

*USDA forecast

85% of the US corn crop is planted in rows 30 inches apart, according to Pioneer Hybrids. This allows for a population approaching 40,000 plants per acre. Narrowing the distance between rows to 20 or 22 inches has shown a significant increase in yields in many trials. There's a school of ag scientists who predict that the development of new hybrids and GMO's combined with narrow rows will allow for ultra high plant populations of up to 80,000 plants per acre. The huge populations will be achieved without causing undue stress to the plant. Scientists are working on future root systems that will adapt to the narrow rows, allowing for the more efficient collection of water. In some hybrids, they are tinkering with the shape of the plant, making them more Christmas tree like to maximize exposure to light. The effect of sunlight cannot be underestimated, as any sunlight that hits the ground is effectively wasted. To further increase yields, scientists are tinkering with the size and shape of the ears, going from the biggest/longest ears to shorter more modest size ears with many more ears per plant. After all, huge ears require more support and that translates to wasted, non-essential plant structure. One envisions a time in the future when corn yields will average 200+ bu/ac. Science and modern agriculture methods and practices have increased yields by 466% in a little over a century.


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