Maximum Corn Row Spacing

Garden space is not an issue for me. I would like to run my small garden tractor and tiller between my rows of corn to keep the weeds down. The maximum width of the tractor and tiller is 42". Could I plant the corn rows at a 48" spacing? Or if I took a slightly larger 48" tiller through, could I plant the corn at 54" spacing? The main concern is still getting good ear pollination. I would adhere to normal 8" - 12" spacing between individual plants in the row.

I think you’ll be better off with closer row spacing (~1-2’ depending on variety) and using a hoe. My grandfather grew a lot of corn on his farm, and that’s about the spacing he’d use between rows, using a tractor. A hoe will make surprisingly quick work of weeds, and once the corn gets more than a couple feet high, it will very effectively shade out any weeds.

32 -36 inch between rows works well…

I have never gone wider than 36… no need to… I use a 7 inch scuttle hoe to keep the between row space free of weeds.

I did try 24 inch once… and that is too close… got poor pollination results.

Yes. I believe that will work .

It’s generally recommend to plant corn in blocks of say 5 rows , and narrower than your ~48 “ row spacing , for good pollination.
And yield per area.
But for example , I planted a “single row “last year of a heirloom field corn just to save it for seed. And it had full pollination.
You may end up with lower yield per area than at a narrower spacing , but I believe this will work , at least most years.
You could spread cover crop or fall greens seed in there at last cultivation to help make up the difference.


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Hey, that’s pretty slick! Another case of the way it’s always been done not always being the best way (although it’s often pretty good).

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I’m here to propound common knowledge as though I knew it first hand. It seems to me that folks used to plant field corn in 36 to 42-inch rows so that their teams of horses or mules could pull a cultivator through them. (The row width was limited on the narrow side by the width of the mule.) Of course, that was A LONG TIME AGO. Back then, the varieties of corn raised grew wider. Truth!

In fact, most corn was checked (planted in hills) the same distance apart as the rows. A wire was strung along the row with knots in it that would trip the planter where each hill was to go. The end of the wire was advanced at the end of every pass with a two-row planter. The first cultivation to loosen the soil and kill weeds was with the rows, but the second cultivation (rough and uncomfortable) was across the rows with a two-row cultivator. The fields displayed an impressive geometric regularity.

Borrowing equipment (not to mention help … and sympathy) from neighbors was complicated by the fact that not everyone used the same row width.

Nowadays, field corn is grown almost exclusively in 30-inch rows and checking has to be described to the unbelieving.

Here’s an ad for “corn heads” for combine harvest implements built for ultra narrow rows. It says:

The move from 40- and 38-inch row corn down to 30-inch rows is credited as one of the major factors contributing to the steady increase of corn yields over the past several decades along with improved hybrids and better herbicides and fertilizers.