Top 10 Tips for Corn Yields

Corn piles high in the middle of corn harvest.

Best management practices (BMPs) go a long way to help farmers secure the best yields and return on investment when growing corn. While there are many factors involved in achieving top yields, the following top 10 tips can help growers add bushels and profits and wind up with the best corn yield outcomes:

  1. Hybrid selection

    Select hybrids from more than one maturity group for risk management and to spread out the workload at planting and harvest time. Research hybrids with consistently high-yield corn ratings, good standability and appropriate maturity ratings for your area. Always consult your local seed dealer and review performance ratings of various hybrids from university Extension trials that match your individual farming needs.

  2. Seed genetics

    Plant hybrids that have shown good yield trial results, plus your tried-and-true hybrids. Seed genetics with built-in herbicide tolerance traits can significantly enhance control of a broad range of tough-to-manage grasses and broadleaf weeds. Diversify hybrid choices to spread risk with a range of maturities and insect and disease susceptibilities.

  3. Seed treatments

    Invest in a professionally applied seed treatment to protect against diseases, insect pests and nematodes to get young corn plants off to a good start. To protect against early-season pests, such as wireworms, white grubs and chinch bugs, as well as provide broad-spectrum protection against nematodes, consider a systemic seed treatment component along with a biological mode of action for dual protection.

  4. Season-long weed control

    Manage grass and broadleaf weeds early. Plant into weed-free fields using pre-plant and pre-emergence residual herbicides. Always aim to control weeds before they reach 3 inches in height. Larger weeds are more difficult to control and compete more tenaciously with corn seedlings for sunlight, soil, water and other nutrients. If weed escapes happen, stay clean with an effective postemergence herbicide.

  5. Fertility

    Test soil fertility levels annually, or at least every other year, preferably in the fall. Add phosphate and/or potassium to help boost corn yields when soil tests indicate the need. Proper nitrogen fertilizer practices are critical for high-yielding corn. Determine the best nitrogen rate and timing by balancing the rate of uptake needed for the crop to thrive during key growth and how much nitrogen can be lost during wet weather.

  6. Planting

    Consider geography, weather and individual field conditions such as drainage when deciding when to plant. Recommended planting dates for corn tend to range from early April to early May. Spring weather can change quickly from cool and wet to dry and warm. “Mudding in the seed” can result in the loss of valuable time spent struggling with stuck equipment, such as tractors and planters. It can also put you at risk for yield reduction due to poor stands and can cause soil compaction issues later in the season.

  7. Seeding

    Follow your seed company’s recommendations because there are many variables, such as soil types, different hybrid maturity dates and yield potential on various soil types. Seeding rates are a decision best made field-by-field. Also, consider row width when determining seeding population.

  8. Scouting

    Check fields early and often for emerging weeds, diseases and insects to help guide treatment decisions and economic thresholds. Follow Extension reports to proactively manage outbreaks that may happen in your area. Season-long management of weed, disease and insect pests in corn will aid your goal for best return on investment at the end of the growing season.

  9. Plant Health

    Proactively plan to use fungicides to manage for optimum plant health. Planned fungicide use helps prevent disease pressure from negatively impacting yields especially in a no-till situation with higher residue or in fields that were planted to corn the year prior.

  10. Resistance management

    Use diversified management practices to manage resistance to herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Select products from different classes of chemistries that attack multiple, effective sites of action. Refer to sources such as Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC), Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) and Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC). Extension and cultural practices such as tillage and crop rotation can also help.

Bayer Solutions for Corn

Bayer offers a broad portfolio of season-long products to help corn growers achieve the highest possible yield and grain quality. Read the entire label for best results and to confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Choose the best products to control your specific pests and achieve the best yield outcome.

Integrated Weed Management

Bayer has a broad herbicide portfolio to combat tough-to-control and resistant weeds.* A well-thought-out herbicide program, using multiple sites of action and nonchemical practices, should be implemented. Before applying any herbicide, please read the entire label for the best possible results and to confirm that the product is effective on the weeds you wish to control.

The following Bayer solutions are valuable tools to consider for your program.

When managing corn crops for high yields, remember it’s always best to start with a clean field. Start with an Autumn Super™ (2) application in the fall, and the following spring use Corvus® (2, 27), as a pre-emergence residual herbicide which has overlapping modes of action to control early season problem weeds. Corvus pre-emergence herbicide from Bayer is the only corn herbicide to offer burndown, residual and reactivation. Residual activity prevents new weeds, while reactivation controls late weeds

The multiple modes of action in Corvus deliver consistent, broad-spectrum control of grasses and broadleaf weeds, including weeds resistant to glyphosate-, ALS-, PPO- and triazine-based herbicides.

A wide application window allows for application from pre-plant to early postemergence at V2, making it an effective, long-lasting first pass herbicide in a two-pass system. Depending on the weed spectrum in your field, such as fields without heavy Palmer amaranth and waterhemp pressure, Corvus may still be a great one-pass option.

A recommended two-pass program starts with a pre-emergence application of Corvus herbicide. The second pass should include a postemergence product such as Laudis® herbicide (27). If using Laudis following an application of Corvus, add another effective herbicide with a different mode of action, such as DiFlexx® (4) herbicide, Liberty® (10) or atrazine, to ensure you are using multiple modes of action in your weed control.

Another pre-emergent herbicide Bayer offers corn growers is Balance® Flexx (27). Follow a pre-emergent application of Balance Flexx with a postemergence herbicide to control multiple weed flushes. Balance Flexx has the unique power to reactivate with as little as a half-inch of rain to control late-emerging weeds. It controls glyphosate-, triazine-, PPO- and ALS-resistant weeds, including resistant marestail, common ragweed, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. Balance Flexx even controls tough grasses, such as woolly cupgrass.

Balance Flexx fits into many cropping systems. Its superb weed control power combined with state-of-the-art crop safety innovation enables growers to readily rotate from corn to other key crops with little or no delay. 

Capreno® herbicide (2, 27) is a postemergence herbicide option for corn from Bayer. It has the longest-lasting residual of any post product on the market. With multiple modes of action, Capreno controls more than 65 grasses and broadleaves, including those resistant to glyphosate, PPO, ALS, dicamba and triazines.

Liberty® is the preeminent weed management system with a unique chemistry and novel mode of action to offer superior control of a broad spectrum of resistant and tough-to-control weeds in LibertyLink® corn.  It is THE non-selective post-emergence herbicide that still effectively handles grasses and broadleaf weeds including glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, marestail, waterhemp and kochia.

To learn more about using herbicides with effective modes of action, refer to the Herbicide Resistance Management Guide. To explore the recommendations of Respect the Rotation™, the Bayer resistance management program, contact your local Bayer sales representative or talk to your regional agronomist.

*Not every product is suitable for every situation, and correct application techniques will ensure the best results. Corvus and Balance Flexx are Restricted Use Pesticides.

Corn Disease Management

A well-thought-out disease-management program, including best management practices, proper seed protection and selection and fungicide applications using multiple modes of action should be implemented to sustainably manage diseases.

Stratego® YLD fungicide from Bayer controls a broad spectrum of diseases; it combines the latest in triazole technology with a powerful, complementary strobilurin chemistry. This versatile fungicide can be applied early season and/or at tassel. The early-season application delays the onset of infection in the middle of the canopy and fights infections of the stalk. The tassel application protects the photosynthetic engine, the ear leaf and the surrounding leaves. Both applications are especially important for growers who are pushing for high yield production and/or farming in an area with a disease history.  For cost efficiency, the early season application may be made via a tankmix with a postemergence herbicide, saving an additional pass across the field.

Yield increases over untreated corn have been consistently demonstrated, with a 7-bushel-per-acre on average increase with use of an early-season application and a 12-bushel on average increase with use of a tassel application. Growers have been shown on average to gain 15 bushels when using both the early and tassel applications.  

Before applying any fungicide, please read the entire label for the best possible results and to confirm that the product is effective on the disease you need to control. Not every product is suitable for every situation, and correct application technique will ensure the best results.

Insect Management

The best approach to managing insect pests in corn is preventative control. Bayer offers season-long insect control options from seed treatments to foliar insecticide products.*

Starting off with a good seed treatment is an excellent way to control insects and protect corn above and below the ground. The Bayer portfolio of seed treatment products offers the best seed-applied solutions available on the market today, from seedling disease protection to protection against early-season insects and nematodes.

Poncho®/VOTiVO® is a market-leading seed treatment to help fight against important early-season corn pests, including corn seed maggot, wireworms, white grubs and black cutworms, as well as provide broad-spectrum protection against nematodes. Poncho 1250 + VOTiVO enhances the length of efficacy against many of the secondary insects that damage corn, such as black cutworm, and adds billbug and corn rootworm protection under low to moderate pest pressure. Poncho, the systemic insecticidal component, is absorbed by new roots immediately, providing control of many critical early-season insect pests. VOTiVO, with its unique bacteria strain that lives and grows on the roots, creates a living barrier that prevents damage from all soilborne plant pathogenic nematodes. This dual protection results in healthier plant establishment and a more uniform crop, positively impacting yields.

Another option for growers to control insect pests in corn is Baythroid® XL insecticide, a pyrethroid, performs on a broad spectrum of corn insect pests with fast knockdown and long residual control. At-planting application is recommended; however, Baythroid XL may be used throughout the growing season. Application timing should be based on careful scouting and local economic thresholds.

*Always read and follow label instructions and confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Not all products are registered for use in every state. Baythroid XL is a Restricted Use Pesticide.


Visit our corn section for information on a portfolio of products from Bayer to help corn growers maximize yields and protect their crops or contact your local Bayer representative.

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