Corn Establishment and Yield Following Partial Stover Harvest

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  • New markets and increasing residue management challenges are driving interest in corn stover harvest.
  • While retaining a portion of stover in fields helps to protect soil from erosion and sustain organic matter, removing excess material has the potential to benefit a subsequent corn crop.
  • The objective of this research was to assess corn establishment and yield following partial stover harvest the previous fall.

Study Description

Design: On-farm strip trials 
Locations:   14 in total (8 in 2012 + 6 in 2013) 
Treatments:  No or partial (~50%) stover harvest 
Replications:    3 replications per location 
Tillage:  Fall chisel plow + spring field cultivation 

Location of on-farm stover harvest trials in central Iowa in 2012 and 2013.


  • Stand establishment was more rapid with partial stover harvest, but harvested and non-harvested strips achieved similar stands within a month of planting.

Stand establishment advantage with partial stover harvest in 2012 and 2013 (average across locations).


Corn yield advantage with partial stover harvest in 2012 and 2013.
(Each bar represents the average yield advantage with stover harvest at a single location.)

  • Partial stover harvest increased corn yield at 86% of trial locations, with an average yield gain of 4.5 bu/acre.

2012 and 2013 data are based on average of all comparisons made in 14 locations through November 20, 2013. Multi-year and multi-location is a better predictor of future performance. Do not use these or any other data from a limited number of trials as a significant factor in product selection. Product responses are variable and subject to a variety of environmental, disease, and pest pressures.  Individual results may vary.