Two hybrids were planted side-by-side in the Corn Illustrated plots on Jim Facemire's farm near Edinburgh on May 1. The high-yield study, with a lofty goal of 325 bushels per acre, consisted of those two hybrids at 32,000 and 40,000 seeds per acre, plus a third hybrid planted in a different portion of the field. Approximately 250 pounds of nitrogen were applied to the field, with about 20 pounds per acre as starter and the rest as sidedress anhydrous ammonia
The field consists of loamy, medium-textured soil on top, with gravel at about 36-40 inches. From planting until June 21, the field received only about an inch of rain total, spread over small showers. It did receive near an inch in weekend rains. But by June 16, signs of dryness were showing. Plants were rolling during the daytime, but some more than others.
The two hybrids planted side-by-side were easy to pick out, Facemrie says. Both are conventional hybrids, supplied by Bird Hybrids LLLC, Tiffin, Ohio. They were selected based upon high yield potential. One was shorter early in the season, with a yellowish-case even after N application. Earlier, leaves showed striping similar to a nutrient deficiency. However, Dave Nanda, consultant for Crops Illustrated and president of Bird Hybrids, assured Facemire that it was just a genetic tendency.
The other hybrid tended to be slightly taller and greener, with an upright leaf type. Compared to the other two hybrids in the plot, it's leaves definitely extended upwards rather than extending outwards. It was particularly noticeable during the prolonged dry spell in May and June.
When it became very dry, both hybrids hung in as well as they could. But the upright-leaved hybrid tended to pull its leaves in tighter, giving the appearance of being even more upright in leaf type.
Facemire applied 1.4 inches of irrigation water on about half the plot on June 16, covering all hybrids and population rates. He based his decision upon when to irrigate on a computer program that factors in soil type, stage of crop growth and other weather-related factors. About half the plot was left non-irrigated, as a comparison.
Once the water soaked in, there were distinct differences between the irrigated and non-irrigated sections during the middle of the day. That's no surprise. The irrigated side took on the appearance of normal corn, growing well. The corn without added water still seemed to keep growing, however. But it rolled even more during the day than before. Rolling of leaves is a mechanism by which corn plants protect themselves by conserving moisture, thus reducing moisture loss during the day.