Narrow-row corn just got narrower. Stine Seed Company planted and harvested 2,500 acres of 12-in.-row corn in central Iowa last year. A hybrid designed for high density production yielded 320 to 330 bu./acre on the cropland.

“(The fields) were up where we had a little extra rain and a little extra nitrogen on it,” reports Harry Stine, president, Stine Seed. “Most of our other yields were much lower with a farm average of 145 bu./acre (mostly 22½-in. rows).”

The trend to 20- and 15-in.-row corn has been around for years. But interest in even narrower rows such as 12 in. has increased as growers seek the elusive 300 bu./acre yield mark.

“The reason for narrower rows is to accommodate the higher plant populations without having the plants too close together within the row,” states Stine.

“The 12-in. rows will allow us to go up to 80,000 plants/acre when we have hybrids that are adapted to that level. We now have hybrids that do best at about 51,000 plants/acre,” he says. “This will produce yields over 300 bu./acre under favorable growing conditions.”

But Stine isn’t recommending farmers adopt the 12-in. row today. “We and no one else have a full lineup of hybrids adapted to this high density production,” he explains. “But in the next year or two, we expect to take care of this problem.”