- Pendulum leaves are parallel to the ground. Pendulum-leaf hybrids tend to be tall, and the flag leaf is parallel to the ground. Tassels are high, above the canopy—easy to see when driving down the road.
- In semi-pendulum hybrids the top three or four leaves are upright and the rest are pendulum.
- Semi-upright hybrids will have pendulum-type leaves to the ear and upright leaves on the rest of the plant.
- Upright-leaf hybrids have upright leaves from top to bottom. The top two leaves are parallel with the tassel, almost hiding the tassel from the road. They tend to be shorter in stature.
Matching Leaf Type and Row WidthForgetting that upright-leaf hybrids fit high-yield environments and pendulum-leaf hybrids maximize yield on sandy, droughty soils is a recipe for disaster, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. One aspect of the environment is row width. “Pendulum-leaf hybrids were designed to capture all the sunlight when planted in wide rows,” says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. “If you plant pendulum-leaf hybrids in narrow rows (twin, 20" or 15") and push the population, yield will likely go backward. The only time to use pendulum-leaf hybrids in narrow rows is when you’re trying to protect a low water supply by planting an ultra-low population, such as 18,000 plants per acre, in dryland corners of an irrigated field.” Conversely, upright-leaf hybrids will fail where water is limited. “As soon as leaves begin to roll, light interception is reduced and starch production falls,” Ferrie explains. “If this goes on long, the plant starts to cannibalize itself. Any stress reduces yield potential.” Some hybrids are so upright in leaf structure it’s impossible to plant them thick enough in wide rows to capture all the sunlight, Ferrie adds. “They are designed for narrow rows, when you’re trying to capture all the sunlight by pushing plants closer together,” he says.
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