When he played college football, Scott Young understood the value of having good protection against the multiple threats of oncoming defensive players. After he graduated and started growing corn in the shallow silt loam soils of southeast Arkansas, he transferred that need for protection to his corn hybrid of choice with DEKALB Disease Shield corn products.
“I choose DEKALB for several reasons,” he says, “but I really like the broad disease protection it provides. It also has good flex, and that transfers into more yield, which is verified when we start reading yield monitors during harvest.”
Young plants corn on 38-inch twin-row beds and selects DEKALB hybrids that lend themselves to lower ear placements and higher plant populations — sometimes as high as 40,000 plants per acre. He knows that in over 12,000 corn trials, DEKALB Disease Shield products have shown an average yield advantage of over 9 bushels per acre. He has grown DEKALB trial corn plots for several years, and uses data from those trials to make his product selections for the next season. “There’s no better place to learn about new hybrids than in the growing environment of your own farm,” he says.
Walk into Young’s farm office and you see state yield contest trophies lining the walls. He has placed first several times, and is always one of the top-yielding corn producers in the state. “Selecting the right corn hybrid is one of the most important decisions a corn farmer can make,” he says, “but the challenge is much bigger than just choosing a hybrid you think will perform well in your operation.”
When planters start rolling across the fields of Dogwood Farms, Young says he has confidence that the DEKALB Disease Shield hybrids he has selected will provide a layer of protection against the top five yield-robbing diseases his crop will face: southern rust; northern corn leaf blight; anthracnose stalk rot; gray leaf spot, and Goss’s Wilt.
Southern rust is a problem in south central Arkansas and can knock down corn yields as much as 5 bushels per acre. Best management practices to help limit any foliar corn disease include rotation and tillage. Young does both, rotating corn with soybeans, which he also grows on twin rows. “Not only does DEKALB Disease Shield offer a broad disease protection package, I see improved plant health in my corn as well,” he says.
The farm has over 28 miles of polypipe laid out across its acreage. “Farming is no different from any other business,” Young says. “You need to manage, and try to minimize risks, whether through irrigation, crop mix, hybrid selection, or utilizing different technologies such as Disease Shield.”
ADVERSITY, RECOVERY, AND TECHNOLOGY
He knows that corn’s greatest yield potential exists when seed is still in the bag. “When you take seed out of the bag and put it in the ground, that’s when you expose it to outside influences like diseases and Mother Nature. Both can be brutal.”
Varying degrees of adversity face any field of corn, Young says, but when he chose DEKALB DKC70-27 Brand, he was confident the product would provide resistance to diseases that could set his crop back. “Over one-third of my entire acreage is planted to Disease Shield.”
He also applies fungicide every year, even though disease may not be present. “It’s an insurance policy of sorts,” he says. “Between that and the DEKALB Disease Shield hybrids, I’ve seen stronger stalk health and less lodging.”
Planting usually begins around the second week in March, and by the third week in August combines are rolling. The 2018 growing season started with too much rain after planting. “We actually had a freeze that I thought would set corn back a little,” Young says. “I think it recovered fairly well, so I’m interested in seeing how it shakes out.”
He leans on technology when he knows it will provide a return on investment. He installed five moisture sensors in 2018 and gets readings at the touch of a button on his iPhone. He plans to install more next year.
He uses a surveying instrument to precisely lay out his gravity-fed irrigation via polypipe. “For every foot of elevation fall, I’ll put a half-a-barrel under the pipe, which helps the water cascade down the hill.”
In addition to the disease protection he gets from DEKALB Disease Shield products, he places great value on the support he gets from DEKALB agronomists and local representatives. “I think one of the most beneficial services they provide is the excellent research and data we have access to from the Monsanto Learning Center at Scott, Miss.,” says Young. “Jay Mahaffey conducts research on farming activities that give us valuable insight when things go wrong.”
From setting a planter to the wrong plant population, to planting too deep or too shallow, the Monsanto Learning Center shares a wealth of research knowledge with their customers each year. “That kind of knowledge is invaluable when something goes the wrong way and you need applicable and reliable advice,” he says.
In his prime, on the gridiron, Scott Young was fast — often outrunning both his protection and his defenders. But in today’s farming environment, he knows he can rely on the protection he gets from DEKALB Disease Shield corn products.