Corn Product Response to Irrigation Management

Trial Overview

  • Farmers use a variety of irrigation management practices to irrigate their corn crop based on the water availability of their irrigation systems. There may be limitations on the amount of water that can be pumped by the well or the irrigation water may need to be shared across multiple crops.
  • Regardless of the reason, farmers would like to know how corn products respond to different irrigation management strategies.

Research Objective

  • The study evaluated the impact of different irrigation management strategies on multiple corn products.
Soil Type
Previous Crop
Tillage Type
Planting Date
Harvest Date
Potential Yield
Planting Rate
Gothenburg, NE
Hord silt loam
240 bu/acre

Site Notes:

22 corn products with RM ranging from 100 to 114 were planted on irrigated, conventional-tilled ground previously planted to corn.Four different irrigation treatments were applied:
Treatment 1: 100% full irrigation (FI) to meet the evapotranspiration demands of the corn crop; 10 applications of 0.6 inch/pass totaling 6.0 inches.Treatment 2: 100% FI; 5 applications of 1.2 inch/pass totaling 6.0 inches.Treatment 3: 60% FI early (up to V16) followed by 100% FI late; 5 applications totaling 4.72 inches.Treatment 4: 100% FI early followed by 60% FI late (after R2); 5 applications totaling 4.92 inches.The trial was set up as a randomized split-plot with irrigation treatment as the whole plot and corn product as the subplot with 4 replications.Weeds were controlled uniformly across the study and no insecticide or fungicide applications were needed.

Understanding the Results

  • Corn products performed differently in the irrigation treatments. Some corn products lost a significant amount of yield if they were stressed early. Other corn products showed no difference in yield across the irrigation treatments.
  • Corn product performance was classified into five categories based on yield:
  • A) Avoid early-season water stress 
  • B) Avoid late-season water stress
  • C) Consistent response across all irrigation treatments
  • D) Handles late-season water stress
  • E) Prefers 0.6 inch/pass applications and handles late-season water stress
  • A majority of corn products fell into category A, where the product had a negative response to early-season stress, or category C, where the product had a consistent response across irrigation treatments (Figures 3 & 4).
  • The lone corn product in category B was unique as all other corn products could handle late-season stress.
  • For categories D and E, there were some slight differences, but the corn products in both categories had high yields when the corn product was exposed to late-season stress. The corn products in category E also yielded higher when 0.6 inch of water was applied per pass compared with all the other categories.

What Does This Mean for Your Farm

  • Corn products do respond differently to different irrigation management strategies.
  • Producers should work with their local seed sales team to identify a corn product that will work with their irrigation system.
  • Ask your agronomist how their branded corn products performed in this study.