New K-State publication on the interaction between corn plant density and yield environment

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A new publication, titled “Plant Density and Yield Environment Interaction,” is now available through K-State Research and Extension as a part of the “Corn Fact Sheet Series.” This publication is supported by Kansas Corn Commission.  The lead author is K-State agronomist Ignacio Ciampitti.

This publication presents the outcomes of a collaboration established between K-State Research and Extension and Dupont Pioneer on investigating the optimal seeding rate by yield environments for corn.


Figure 1. Plant density studies performed from 2000 to 2014 for Dupont Pioneer investigating the corn yield response to seeding rate with plant density factor ranging from less than 10 to more than 40 thousand plants per acre in 22 states in the U.S. and 2 provinces in Canada. Photo by Dupont Pioneer Seed Company.


The main points of this study are:

  • Optimal plant density varies with yield environment.
  • Low-yielding environments (less than 100 bushels per acre) require about 20,000 plants per acre when yield limitations are caused by water supply. High- yielding environments (greater than 200 bushels per acre) generally need at least 30,000 plants per acre.
  • Optimal plant density to maximize yield is not the same as the economically optimal density. See statements below for background.
  • Optimal density varies not only between but within-field based on yields.


Plant density for highest possible yield does not always coincide with the economically optimum plant density. Hybrid agronomic factors such as lodging potential, plus grain prices and seed costs also should be considered.

Producers should consider experience and performance in previous growing seasons to determine if the seeding rate previously employed in their different fields was adequate for their respective yield environments.

This publication can be found at:



Ignacio Ciampitti, Cropping Systems Specialist, KSUCROPS Production Lab

Yared Assefa, Post-doctoral researcher, KSUCROPS Production Lab

Paul Carter, Senior Agronomy Sciences Manager, Dupont Pioneer