Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm
Historically, corn was grown in rows wide enough to allow draft animals to fit between the rows. With the advent of powered equipment, improved hybrids, fertilizers, and pesticides, corn rows have become narrower. Research in the 1960s showed a 5% yield advantage by growing corn in 30-inch rows compared with 38-inch rows. More recent research suggests that the yield benefit has decreased to a 3% advantage for 30-inch rows. By the early 1990s, there was interest in growing corn in rows narrower than 30 inches. Currently, about 1% of the total corn acreage in Iowa is planted in rows narrower than 30 inches. Research in Minnesota and Michigan showed a 7–10% advantage for corn grown in 15- or 20-inch rows compared with 30-inch row spacings. Tests in the central Corn Belt have indicated a smaller response (up to 5%). The Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm has tested corn row spacings for the past 8 years.
Iowa State University
Pecinovsky, Kenneth T.; Benson, Garren O.; and Farnham, Dale E., "Corn Row Spacing, Plant Density, and Maturity Effects" (2003). Iowa State Research Farm Progress Reports. 1493.