Maximizing yield with continuous corn (CC) fields is more difficult than with corn-soybean rotations (CS). Even in situations where CC systems are intensely managed, yield-limiting factors may not be fully understood.
DuPont Pioneer agronomists have conducted a six-year study in Illinois. The report showed that CC yielded 25 fewer bu/acre than CS. And three major factors were attributed to the yield loss:
- Soil nitrogen (N) supply
- CC history
To explain the difference between CS and CC yields, N supply was, by far, the most important factor. The CC yield penalty decreased as intrinsic soil N supply capacity increased.
The number of CC years was the second most important component of the yield penalty. The difference between CS and CC yields increased with years in CC.
The third driver was weather. The CC yield penalty increased as weather conditions limited N availability to CC; this occurred to a much greater degree than to CS.
The study’s results indicate that positioning CC on highly productive soils and effectively managing corn residues are two of the most important practices for consistently achieving high CC yields.
So how do you manage CC and maintain yields? Consider these factors:
- Hybrid selection
- Soil fertility
- Weed and insect control
For more information, view the full Crop Insights online.
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