New University of Illinois sweet corn research shows that higher yield and profitability are possible with greater plant populations of certain hybrids.
Although it's a common practice to study plant populations in field corn, U of I associate professor of crop sciences and USDA-ARS ecologist Marty Williams, said almost no research exists for determining the number of plants needed to optimize yield in processing sweet corn, which accounts for most of the U.S. sweet corn acreage.
"The only published results on this subject took place in the mid-1960s on the varieties Golden Cross Bantam and Jubilee," Williams said. "Today those hybrids are 79 and 50 years old, respectively. The sweet corn industry, both growers and processors, needs relevant information on modern varieties to help them achieve maximum profits."
The priorities of processing sweet corn are quite different than fresh-market sweet corn, he said.
"Unlike fresh-market sweet corn, ear size and appearance don't really matter in processing sweet corn," Williams said. "What's important is how many cases of sweet corn are produced per acre."
Because of this, fresh-market sweet corn research simply doesn't apply since different hybrids are used and different traits are important. In 2009, the Midwest Food Processors Association asked Williams to conduct research on the relationship between plant populations and profitability in processing sweet corn.
So where does yield peak for processing sweet corn, and what plant population does it take to get there?
The answer is not that simple. Williams evaluated six widely used hybrids from Del Monte, Syngenta Seeds and Crookham Company. The hybrids were planted under a wide range of plant populations and growing conditions.
"We looked at relationships among different crop traits and found that increasing plant populations affected crop growth and development in plausible ways," he said. "I
|Contact: Jennifer Shike|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences