Corn School: Will double-cob corn deliver bonus yield?

If you’re seeing double in your corn crop this year, you’re not seeing things. Double-cob stalks are showing up in many fields this season and farmers want to know — will these bonus cobs amount to anything, and why are they even there?

Those are two questions Steph Kowalski, agronomy lead for the Agromart Group, has been hearing repeatedly during recent weeks while travelling eastern Canada. From Ontario to Newfoundland, 2018 appears to be the year of the double-cob corn.

In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, Kowalski notes that traditionally growers tend to see doubles at the end of rows or on outside rows where the plants receive additional light and experience less competition. In this Oxford County fieldm however, she finds double cobs throughout the entire field.

Story continues after video.

Kowalski notes there’s no consensus on what’s causing the phenomenon. Leading researchers and agronomists to suggest it could be a product of specific genetics or a response to environmental conditions, possibly the result of a cool spring that quickly turned to intense heat across eastern Canada.

Will those extra ears actually amount to anything and put more bushels in the bin? The jury is out on that question as well, says Kowalski. If the plant has excellent stay-green abilities as harvest approaches, it could sacrifice the second ear to keep standing. If the hybrid tends to fall over a little and lose some of its integrity, the second cob may deliver a higher yield as the plant cannibalizes the stalk.

“We’ll have a great learning opportunity this fall. Keep an eye on those fields,” says Kowalski.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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