Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sidewall Compaction Early Hurts Yields Late

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

Earlier in the season, we tried to warn about planting too early and the risks of sidewall compaction. Nick Roy, County Ag Agent in Adair County did some yield checks in a field with and without sidewall compaction. Below are his reports.

All yield checks are from the same field.
Area 1) yield check: 161 bu/acre: no compaction found, good plant color:
Area 2) yield check: 130 bu/acre: some signs of compaction, fair plant color, occassional furrow open a litle
Area 3) yield check: 80 bu/acre: furrow wide open about one-half to three-quarters inch wide and one-inch deep, sidewalls very hard, plants showing severe drought stress and N deficiency

These are yield checks from three separate areas of the field and there are no replications. The example provides an indication into how much yield loss sidewall compaction can cause. Avoiding sidewall compactionis a challnege, especially when some areas of the same field are suitable for planting and other areas are too wet. The pressure to get something planted also makes it more difficult to wait a couple extra days, especially when planting is late and rain is in the long-term forecast.

In the example above, the producer was upset with the N deficiency. Nick pointed out that the real problem was sidewall compaction and a lack of root development. As you scout fields before harvest, keep this in mind. We are sure to see more examples around the Commonwealth.

Click here for a guide to estimating corn yields.

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