Building a Maximum Yield Cropping System for Corn, Wheat and Double-cropped Soybeans


15 Mar 2001


    Research at the University of Maryland and surrounding Land Grant Universities has shown that with improved management strategies yields of grain crops such as wheat, corn and full-season soybeans can be significantly increased. Studies at the University of Maryland Poplar Hill Research and Education Center have shown that wheat yields in excess of 110 bu per acre are possible using a carefully monitored, intensive crop management (ICM) system. Intensive Crop Management studies at North Carolina State University, VPI & State University, and Rutgers University have demonstrated that consistently higher yields are possible in corn and full-season soybeans. However, in Maryland, no real effort has been made to develop intensive crop management procedures for increased corn and double-cropped soybean yields.

    About 35,000 acres of soybeans and corn are grown under irrigation in light sandy soils found on the Delmarva. Growers who have irrigation systems in place are interested in maximizing the profitability of corn and soybean production by increasing yields. In Maryland, County Extension agents have organized irrigation improvement associations for corn which have been successful in using supplemental water more efficiently. Nevertheless, only a few growers have consistently achieved yields of 200 bu/A or more with irrigation. Most growers believe that they cannot economically justify investment in irrigation equipment for exclusive use in soybean production because there is considerable variation in the response of soybeans to supplemental water.

    Yields of 30 bu/a for double-cropped soybeans are considered good. There are considerable margins for improvement in both the small grain and soybean crop particularly on those farms with highly productive soil types and irrigation systems. Real potential exists to increase double-cropped soybean yields on Maryland's Eastern Shore where the soils are productive, many farmers are equipped with center pivot irrigation systems and a longer growing season is present. According to the Delmarva Poultry Industry there is a deficit of corn, wheat and soybeans, on the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Peninsula. As much as 17% of the grain used in the poultry industry must be imported from states as distant as Ohio and Indiana.

    The emphasis of the proposed project will be to adapt improved management techniques used by neighboring universities and to produce an economically feasible maximum yield-crop rotation system of corn, wheat and double-cropped soybeans for Maryland.