Determining optimum plant population

In the past, optimum plant population was determined by increasing population each year to the point where the ear began to tip back. A corn plant has the ability to sense when it has enough nutrients and moisture to put grain on, so just looking at grain development was a good way to determine if plant populations were over the optimal line. After generations of using roughly the same seed, plant population was pretty nailed down.

To help adjust to the new plant population realities, we’ve ramped up our research to try to give Latham customers a more informed starting point. This growing season we’ll evaluate two triple-stack hybrids: one with more ear flex capability than the other. We’ll also be capturing the yield-ability across different soil types. We know that each soil type has inherent natural fertility and water holding capacity, which are two important components of yield when considering plant population. Many seed technology developers have also launched research into the plant population area, so we plan to also collaborate closely with those studies.

The goal of all this research and investigation is always the same: to help customers realize more profit per acre. That means we’re always considering the math of yield revenue minus input costs. The development of seed technology has made plant population one of the variables in that equation and, as with everything associated with high-tech products, Latham Hybrids will continue to invest in finding ways to use PPA to make our customers more money.