Agronomics and economics of plant population density on processing sweet corn

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A detailed analysis of the effect of plant population density (hereafter called 'populations') on processing sweet corn is lacking in the peer-reviewed literature. Therefore, field experiments were conducted utilizing six hybrids commonly grown in North America, one of several locations where sweet corn is grown for processing globally. The objectives were to: (1) quantify the effects of population and commercial hybrid on sweet corn growth, development, ear traits, and yield, (2) determine populations for maximum yield for growers and maximum gross profit margin for processors, and (3) compare populations for maximum yield and maximum gross profit margin to populations observed in processing sweet corn fields. Increasing populations from 43,000 to 86,000plantsha -1 linearly increased canopy density, light interception, and length of the vegetative period, while linearly decreasing filled ear length and recovery - the percent of kernel mass represented in green ear mass. The processing hybrids used in this study differed not only in yield potential, ranging from 15.3 to 19.8Mtha -1, but also in their ability to tolerate high populations. In general, higher-yielding hybrids performed best at higher populations. Based on surveys of growers' fields in North America, populations average 56,000plantsha -1, which was consistent with the average population for maximum gross profit margin for processors ($9900ha -1). Both growers and processors could realize increased yield and profit by using certain hybrids at populations higher than currently used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalField Crops Research
StatePublished - Mar 14 2012


  • Competition
  • Development
  • Growth
  • Stress tolerance
  • Yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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