Quarterly Newsletter: May 2020

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Continual Safety and Service

Securing Seeds

Control Your Yield


Owner's Update

Liqui-Grow is a family-owned business (62 years) focused on serving its employees and Midwest farm customers. We are proud to maintain an employee management team that welcomes input and takes quick action when called upon, especially during these unusual times. Every spring we work to keep a safe and secure work environment, but this spring we had to up our game to meet the new challenges.

The safety of and service to each and every Liqui-Grow customer was considered with changes we made this spring in providing products/services to them. We want to thank them for their support. We also want to thank each and every employee for their support and extra effort this spring to keep our teams safe and viable during this busy spring season.

As a family-owned business that is not handcuffed by any bureaucratic processes or distractions, we are able to make decisions that are sensitive, nimble and timely recognizing the impact not only on our employees and customers, but us directly.

As we enter this next phase of our growing crop, both customers and employees can be assured that we are being very thoughtful in balancing many needs for creating future successes in 2020.


Thanks so much for your support.

-Scott, Hov & Bruce Tinsman

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Securing Seeds

photo of Katie Hess
Katie Hess
Seed & Seed Treatment Manager










"We were extremely proactive as a company this spring, and took seed delivery to our locations sooner than usual to try and secure our customers’ orders and requests."

I am 33 years old and I’ve been reminded over and over again the past 2 months of what unprecedented times we are living in and we’ve never seen this, hopeful to not see it again in my lifetime. It seems like each generation gets to see something no one else has ever seen. It’s hard to point out positives right now, but here goes.

We were extremely proactive as a company this spring, and took seed delivery to our locations sooner than usual to try and secure our customers’ orders and requests. We also want to thank our customers for taking delivery of seed products sooner than usual. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working with farmers all these years, it is, they will adapt to unforeseen events.

Securing your seed for your orders isn’t as easy as it seems, sometimes we have to “beg, borrow or steal” to fill those orders and this was no different than any other year, but with a lot more social distancing rules to follow. If you see me at a location or field day later this year, ask me more about this!

I say all this to remind you as the salesmen ask you what your plan or ideas are for next year, they are trying to do their best in securing supply for you. Thanks for all of the support this spring, and I’m looking forward to walking your fields with the salesmen this summer!


Control Your Yield

photo of Dr. Jake Vossenkemper
Dr. Jake Vossenkemper
Agronomy Research Lead









"It’s wise to focus on the metric you can control, which is yield."

No doubt COVID-19 has caused recent commodity prices to soften and it’s impossible to know what these developing circumstances might do to the future commodity price landscape. What we do know, however, is that we have very little control over crop prices, but we do have some control over crop yield. Given the two metrics together control gross revenue, it’s wise to focus on the metric you can control, which is yield.

Given these facts, I would double down on making wise agronomic decisions. You obviously had a well thought out crop production plan prior to the epidemic that would result in optimum yields/returns and I see no reason to deviate from that. In other words, if you and your Liqui-Grow salesman had planned to make a sidedress application to corn or had planned on making a foliar fungicide application to soybean or corn, those plans were made based on sound agronomics and not on an emotional reaction due to the present pandemic.

While I am not an economist, I follow closely what ag economists are saying and there are a few reasons why prices may rebound. Ethanol consumption while still historically low is making a steep rebound. Cheap US corn means that we are increasingly competitive on the world market which may incentivize China and other export markets to buy US corn. Moreover, some ag economists believe that corn planting intentions are inflated meaning the 2020 crop may not be as large as the USDA is forecasting at this moment. So there is hope for optimism and you will need yield to capitalize on higher grain prices this fall/winter should that materialize.


Newsletter Archive - COMING SOON

Corn on Corn Management

photo of rows of corn for decorative purpose


Dr. Brad Bernhard discusses the key management factors needed to overcome the yield penalty when planting corn on corn.


  • Residue Management
    • bury or size the residue


  • Nitrogen Management
    • keep nitrogen fertilizer and residue apart


  • Starter Fertilizer
    • helps plants overcome early season nutrient deficiencies


  • Field Selection
    • select high yielding fields


  • Foliar Fungicides
    • disease protection


  • Hybrid Selectionge
    • stress emergence, yield stability, and disease package

Managing for Higher Corn Plant Populations

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Article Summary

  • Higher plant populations can be managed by planting in narrower row spacings.
  • As plant population increases, the size of each individual root system becomes significantly smaller, which increases the need for better crop management especially fertility.
  • When growing corn at higher plant populations and/or narrower row spacings, it is important to select a hybrid that has a positive yield-response to these more intensive management practices.

Corn yields have increased significantly since the 1930s largely due to genetic improvement and better crop management. Grain yield is the product of the number of plants per acre, kernels per plant, and weight per kernel. Of the three components that make up grain yield, the number of plants per acre is the factor that the grower has the most direct control over. Kernel number and kernel weight can be managed indirectly through proper fertility, weed, pest and disease management to optimize plant health, and weather also plays a major role. Currently the average U.S. corn planting population is just under 32,000 plants per acre and has increased 400 plants per acre per year since the 1960s. If this trend continues, the average U.S. corn planting population will reach 38,000 plants per acre in 15 years and 44,000 plants per acre in 30 years.

Narrower Row Spacings

Today, the vast majority of corn in the U.S. is planted in 30” row spacings, with narrower rows generally defined as any row spacing or configuration less than 30” row spacings.

The most common narrower row spacings include 20” and 15” rows, along with twin rows that are spaced 7.5” apart (22.5” between rows, but are on 30” centers). Narrower row spacings can be used to increase plant-to-plant spacing within a row to reduce crowding at higher plant populations, thereby, allowing the crop to better utilize available light, water, and nutrients
(Figure 1).

In 2017 and 2018, six commercial DeKalb hybrids were planted at 38,000, 44,000, 50,000, 56,000 plants per acre in a 30” and 20” row spacing at Yorkville and Champaign, IL.

30 inch rows of corn and 20 inch rows of corn

Figure 1. At the same plant population of 44,000 plants per acre, greater plant-to-plant spacing is achieved in the 20” row spacing compared to the 30” row spacing.

The management system that resulted in the highest grain yield of 294 bushels per acre was planting 44,000 plants per acre in a 20” row spacing (Table 1). The minimum plant population that maximized grain yield in a 30” row spacing was 38,000 plants per acre. On average, across plant population, plants in a 20” row spacing yielded 12 bushels per acre more than when planted in a 30” row spacing, however, as plant population increased the yield advantage of the 20” rows over the 30” row spacing was greater. Planting 56,000 plants per acre at either row spacing was too high of a population and yield decreased without a sufficient amount of resources such as water or nutrients to support that many plants. Evidence suggests that there is a limit on how high planting population can be pushed in either a 30” or 20” row spacing without any additional fertilizer, crop protection, or irrigation.

Better Crop Management

Management systems that decreased plant-to-plant spacing within a row, such as wider row spacing and higher plant population, decreased the size of the root system. On average, for every additional 6,000 plants planted per acre there was a 15-18% decrease in the size of the root system (Figure 2). However, when planted in a 20” row spacing, the greater plant-to-plant spacing increased the size of the root system by 22%. At higher plant populations, not only are there more plants that require nutrients and water, but each of those plants also have a significantly smaller root system. Crop fertility becomes even more important under these more intensive growing conditions. Placing nutrients directly in the root zone at the right time using the correct source and rate increases the probability that roots will take up and utilize those nutrients.

For every additional 6,000 plants planted per acre there was a 15-18% decrease in the size of the root system.

Comparison of corn roots based on 20 and 30 inch row spacing

Figure 2. Individual plant root size decreases as plant population increases. At a given plant population, the 20” row spacing has a larger root system compared to the 30” root system.

Select the Right Hybrid

Hybrids vary greatly in their response to plant population and to narrower row spacings (Table 2). Hybrids also vary in their plant architecture and leaf trait characteristics. Understanding which hybrids better tolerate higher plant populations and narrower row spacings along with the plant growth and leaf traits that these hybrids possess would help lead the breeding effort for selecting hybrids that will perform even better in these management systems. Hybrids that produced greater yields in response to narrower row spacings and higher plant populations tended to possess the following plant growth and leaf traits: 1) greater above-ground biomass, 2) high leaf area index, 3) upright leaves, 4) thin leaves, and 5) less leafy plants.

Table 1. Grain yield as influenced by plant population and row spacing for corn averaged across six corn hybrids grown at Yorkville and Champaign, IL in 2017 and 2018.

table comparison of yields based on plants per acre and the row spacing

Table 2. Grain yield and profit difference between planting 38,000 plants per acre in a 30” row spacing compared to 44,000 plants per acre in a 20” row spacing for six DeKalb corn hybrids grown at Yorkville and Champaign, IL in 2017 and 2018. Profit was calculated using $3.50 corn and $320.00 per bag of corn seed.

Table with hybrid comparisons


As the trend of increasing planting populations continues, it is important to consider the effects that the reduced plant-to-plant spacing has on the corn plants. Crop management becomes even more important, especially fertility, under these crowded conditions. Narrower row spacings can be used as a tool to reduce the plant-to-plant competition at higher planting populations.