Using hybrids adapted to high densities is the key to making narrow-row corn work, Stine stresses. “I constantly preach that this is not about narrow-row corn but about high-density corn.
“If people go to narrow rows with the same material they are using (for wider rows), it won’t work,” he states. “People tried to drill soybeans a few years ago and it didn’t work because the soybean varieties were not developed for that purpose.”
For years, Stine has been selecting for hybrids that do well at high populations. He says other seed geneticists earlier discovered that a hybrid selected for a specific population range will go down in yield if planted at either a significantly higher or lower population.
“This means the new high-yielding, high-population hybrids must be selected specifically for this purpose and under those conditions,” Stine explains. “It does not work at all to take most present hybrids and plant them at a significantly higher population.”