Effect of Row Direction on Corn Silage Yield


  • Where terrain permits, corn rows can be planted in either a north-south or an east-west direction.
  • Sunlight penetrates more deeply into the plant canopy with north-south than with east-west rows.


  • Compare corn silage yields and milk per ton or per acre to corn rows planted north-south versus east-west directions.
  • Compare silage and milk yields at 2 plant populations.

Study Description

Location: 1 in central Illinois 
Years: 2011-2012
Hybrids: 2 in 2011, 3 in 2012 
Row Spacing:     30 inches
   Row Direction: North-south, East-west
   Plant Population   28,000 and 34,000 plants/acre

  • Plant weights were measured at silage harvest.
  • Potential milk yield was calculated from nutrient composition of plants


Row Direction

  • Corn silage yield was greater (average = 14%) with north-south than east-west rows in both years of the study.
  • Milk/ton of silage was similar between north-south and east-west rows, but due to greater silage yield, milk/acre of silage averaged 12% more with north-south than east-west rows.
  • Silage starch content was not affected by row direction.

Chart: research results

Plant Population

  • Silage yield was significantly greater (average = 19%) with a plant population of 34,000 plants/acre than 28,000 plants/acre in both years of the study. 
  • Predicted milk/ton of silage tended to be slightly lower with the higher plant population..
  • Predicted milk/ton of silage harvested averaged 21% more with the higher plant population primarily due to the greater yield of silage dry matter per acre.

Research conducted by Dr. Paul Walker, Illinois State University, as a part of the Pioneer Crop Management agronomists, Pioneer sales professionals and customers. Research Awards (CMRA) Program. This program provides funds for agronomic and precision farming studies by university and USDA cooperators throughout North America. The awards extend for up to four years and address crop management information needs of Pioneer agronomists, Pioneer sales professionals and customers.

2011-2012 data are based on average of all comparisons made in one location through December 31, 2012. 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.