Growers are seeing the value of planting silage corn in twin rows – but not just for the yield increase, says Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin extension corn agronomist.

“There are a lot more twin-row planters being bought by farmers, and they’re buying them more because of convenience,” he says. That’s because twin-row planters, which plant two rows 7½” or 8” apart on 30” centers, can be used to plant a variety of crops.

“In Wisconsin, we still have a lot of corn being produced in 36-38” row spacing. Even in New York and Pennsylvania and across Michigan, a lot of dairy producers still have fairly wide rows. So I encourage those guys to move to 30” rows.”

Moving from planting wider rows to 30” spacings gives a consistent 8% silage corn yield increase, Lauer says. Planting twin rows increases silage yield an additional 4-6% and grain yield about 3-4%.

Machinery-wise, he says, a twin-row planter and a chopper set up for 30” rows are what is needed. “That’s a less expensive move to make compared to going to something like a 15-20” row spacing.”

Narrow-row planting would bring an even higher and consistent silage yield increase – 5-7%. “But for grain, it’s not consistent and it’s only about a 2½-3½% yield increase.” And the cost of buying a whole line of equipment to fit 15” or 20” rows is a major investment better left to younger farmers just getting into the business, Lauer says.

For more on twin-row corn for silage, read Worth The Trouble.