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an less be more in a cornfield? Can skip row corn add bushels to the bin? James Hitchcock wants the answers from one trusted source—his own fields.

In 2023, Hitchcock is bucking convention with skip row 30” corn versus solid 30” corn.

“Too many farmers get stuck in an old mentality or are just afraid to fail or get criticized. Not me,” Hitchcock explains. “With all the new technology and new hybrids available, I’m trying different things every year. No farmer should ever stop learning and that means you need to always do out-of-the-box things in your own fields.”

Taking the Plunge

In east-central Georgia’s Washington County, just outside Tennile, fourth-generation Hitchcock, 44, grows pivot-irrigated corn, peanuts, and soybeans on roughly 3,000 acres. For the past five years, he has grown non-GMO corn and conventional soybeans on fields typically containing a significantly wide variety of soil types ranging from sandy ground to heavy clay.

In April, Hitchcock planted 25 acres of 60”-row corn, surrounded by the remainder of the field in solid 30”-row corn. Split between two hybrids, the corn was planted at 36,000 seeds per acre in both the skip and solid rows. (Photo courtesy of James Hitchcock)

Persistently curious about the potential of wide row crops, Hitchcock took the plunge in 2023. “I’m part of Randy Dowdy and David Hula’s grower group (Total Acre) and the participating farmers challenge each other all the time on how to grow; what products to use; and how to use them,” Hitchcock says. “Generally, nobody in my area tries skip row corn, so why not me?”

“I’ve been watching intercropping get hotter and hotter and I think I’ll go there too, but I’m not ready to hop in just yet,” he adds. “I want to see how skip row does first.”

Hitchcock chose 280 acres of reliable loam for his skip row trial. (Technically, the overall field is 500 acres, but 220 acres was planted to winter wheat and harvested, followed by soybeans.)

“The ground the skip row trial is on is always planted in covers,” he describes. “We broadcast cover crop seed in the fall and run a Turbo-Till over the top. In spring, we spray and kill the covers, and then strip till into the rows.”

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