PRESS BULLETIN 186
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
By A. P. Spencer
Many farmers plant more seed corn per acre than they expect will grow,
because they know part of it will not germinate, and look forward to thinning
out and replanting if necessary.
Seed corn of low germination will not give an even stand. Hence the
vacant hills in many fields. It is best to avoid planting moldy or weevil-
eaten seed. One can select for seed heavy well-ripened ears of the type
that has best suited the locality. Then the butts and tips are shelled off,
and only the grain from the middle of the ears planted.
Ten per cent. of vacant hills will lower the yield from two to five bushels
per acre. This applied to the corn crop of the entire State may be estimated
at more than one million bushels loss on the 1912 crop of corn.
Through Preparation Before Planting
The seed should not be planted until the soil is well prepared. The whole
field should be broken deeply and thoroughly worked. Much of the hoeing
and weeding Can be avoided by thorough cultivation before the seed is
planted. Some moisture will be lost when it is most needed, and there will
be an uneven distribution of the applied fertilizer if the soil is not thoroughly
Scatter the fertilizer broadcast. The corn roots grow ten or more feet,
and spread across from row to row. Cover the seed about four inches deep.
Distance for Planting
One cannot get the maximum yield of corn from well prepared soil that
has been properly fertilized, if the rows are too far apart. The rows should
be set four feet apart, with one stalk every 12 inches in the row. This
will give 10,890 plants per acre. Planting five feet apart and 15 inches or
more in the row, a common practice, gives 7,200 or fewer plants per acre.
If the crop is frequently cultivated during its growth, and the soil well pre-
March 16, 1912
pared as suggested above, there will be not much likelihood of "firing".
With more than 50 per cent. more plants we may usually expect a nearly
corresponding increase in bushels of corn per acre.
Many bushels of corn are lost each year by too 0deep cultivation during
the growing season. Every root cut off by a deep cultivator or plow injures
the plant. The loss of multitudes of fibrous roots at each of three or four
deep plowings is very injurious to the crop, and results in a lower yield.
The weeder should start just as the corn is first 'coming through the
ground. Its use will help the seedling plants to get through, and prevent
the evaporation of some tons of moisture from the soil. The use of the
weeder should be continued once a week or oftener, and especially after
each rain, until the crop is too high for its use. This not only saves the
moisture for the crop's need, but destroys the weeds immediately they appear
above the ground. One man with a mule and weeder can cultivate 10 or 12
acres of corn a day, doing better work and at less expense than would be
done by men with hoes.
It is not good policy to "lay by" the corn crop. It is better to keep the
weeder going as long as possible, and then cultivate between the rows with
a shallow working cultivator until the crop is about matured.
Plant Cowpeas or Beggarweed
When the crop of corn is about matured cowpeas or beggarweed may be
planted between the rows. These are soil-improving crops. They prevent
the soil from leaching, and add fertility and humus to benefit the succeeding
crops, besides furnishing good forage for live stock.
There is usually a shortage of seed corn and consequently a demand for
it just at planting time. This often necessitates planting the best which
happens to be on hand, good or bad.
Every farmer should prepare now to grow his seed for next year's crop.
For this, one-half anacre or more of the most) fertile soil should be selected,
some distance from the main crop. If the seed plot is too close to the
main crop, cross-pollination will occur, and the seed may be no better than
good average seed from the main crop, as pollen is often carried twenty
rods or more by the wind. Secure the best available seed for this plot from
a reliable farmer or seedsman; or if none suitable can be purchased, select
the best ears on hand (one gallon of shelled corn will be sufficient for
half an acre) to secure a uniform type suitable to the soil and locality.
State papers please copy.