A new website, www.7WondersOfCorn.com, highlights the top factors that affect corn crop yield, according to Fred Below, Ph.D., a professor of plant physiology in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.  

Below conducted a study and categorized the results of his research into seven management practices, or “wonders,” that can result in high-yielding corn. His study helps growers answer the question of what the latest products and practices contribute to yield. Below’s unique omission plots allowed his team to see the bushel impact when an individual practice or input was added or subtracted, then compare it to other plots in which all actions were in place in same plot. Replicated in various locations over various years, the results allowed Below to identify and rank those seven factors with the greatest impact on corn yield.


“Roughly speaking, the higher up on the Wonder list the more control that factor exerts over the Wonders that follow,” said Below. “When combined, all of these factors contribute to big-yield gains.” In order of importance, they are:

  1. Weather
  2. Nitrogen/fertility
  3. Hybrid selection
  4. Previous crop
  5. Plant population
  6. Tillage
  7. Growth regulators