An excellent foundation of crop inputs teamed with variable-rate planting prescriptions delivered a winning yield for one Shullsburg, Wis., corn producer.
Tim Appell and his wife, Wendy, with their children, Jada and Remington, took second place nationally in the conventional nonirrigated category of the 2019 National Corn Yield Contest with a yield of 322.25 bushels per acre. That yield also garnered first place in the same category in the Wisconsin contest.
“Despite being short-changed on growing degree days and receiving nearly 35 inches of rain during the summer, we actually had pretty good growing conditions in this area,” Appell says. “I believe that maintaining a weekly to 10-day scouting schedule and following up with various recommendations at different stages of plant development paid dividends. Assistance from my crop input adviser Jason Potter and certified crop specialist Pat Herbst, both with Insight FS in Darlington, played a critical role in the final yield.”
The Lafayette County farming enterprise raises 1,000 acres of corn on silty, clay loam, well-drained Tama soil. In the past five years, Appell has averaged 218 bushels per acre of corn on conventional and no-till ground. Originally the land was owned by his grandparents, Earl and Lois Roper, who shared their day-to-day experiences when Appell was young and worked part time on the farm.
No skimping on fertilizer
The 100-acre contest plot followed a rotation featuring two years of corn followed by one year of soybeans. Soil samples are taken every four years, and fertilizer is fall-applied based on crop removal of phosphorus, potassium and sulfur, and according to variable-rate recommendations. The FS co-op applies fertilizer with a Case IH 810 Air Flow spreader.
Prior to freeze-up and to limit any problems with compaction, Appell runs an inline ripper and turbo tills. He applies 32% nitrogen immediately after planting.
Appell selected DKC-34RIB, a 114-day maturity hybrid, for his contest acres. A Kinze 3200 12-row planter, outfitted with precision planting technology, dropped kernels at 38,000 plants per acre in 30-inch rows on April 23. Wet weather delayed the harvest, which was completed on Nov. 25. The corn averaged 20.3% moisture.
To knock out weeds such as foxtail, lambsquarters, waterhemp, marestail and giant ragweed, Appell relies on a two-pass system of 1.5 quarts of Acuron and 18 ounces of Calisto Xtra per acre. On the second trip, which occurs at the V5 growth stage, he adds 22 ounces of Roundup PowerMax per acre.
Since northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot, rust and tar spot may pop up in different acres, he uses 13.7 ounces of Trivapro per acre at the V6 and flowering stage. His foliar feeding program consists of Nutrifuse Super 8-8-6 applied with fungicide at 2 quarts per acre.
Taking more progressive steps
“I have participated in this competition the last couple of years because I felt I could win, based on what my grandfather told me when I was growing up,” Appell says. “There are solid benefits for entering the contest. It not only opens a window for looking at new technologies but also allows you to gain information on the latest hybrid research.
“For me, the path to achieve consistent yields begins by monitoring and improving certain management practices. These include: taking measures to handle and break down excess amounts of residue, shooting for an optimum planting date, eliminating compaction, going with precise rates on each planter row, maintaining a regular scouting schedule, adding micronutrients and tissue testing.
“In today’s world of growing corn, I have learned that sidedressing nitrogen and going with the right fungicide are critical keys for putting more bushels in the bin,” he adds. “Recently, I purchased a new Kinze model 3600 planter with the latest precision planting technology. I’m also leaning toward switching more acres to corn on corn to see if that might result in a few additional ears. Unless there is roller-coaster weather that limits production, I’m sure I will enter the contest again next year.”
Randy Budden took first place overall in the 2019 Wisconsin Corn Growers Association Yield Contest. The Cuba City producer won the Southern Division in the Badger state with 297.8497 bushels per acre.
Budden farms 600 acres and shares equipment with his brothers Gary and Kevin. He uses conventional tillage to raise soybeans, alfalfa and 365 acres of corn, which has averaged 255 bushels per acre the past five years on Tama silt loam soil.
“The contest plot consisted of 30 acres, with corn following soybeans the previous year,” Budden says. “My Pioneer seed sales representative, Wayne Leofoholts, encouraged me to enter and see how this farm would stack up against other growers. We selected a top variety and planted it an area which had shown consistent yields over several growing seasons.”
After deep tillage in the spring, Budden injected 12,000 gallons of liquid manure per acre prior to running a soil finisher two times. The nutrient package included 10 gallons of 6-18-6 with sulfur and boron in the furrow at planting time. He dropped 40,000 kernels of Pioneer 1366 AMxT per acre with a Monosem six-row planter on April 25, but was unable to finish the field until May 4 due to 6 inches of snow. The final stand count came in at 39,000 plants per acre and was harvested Nov. 6 at 24% moisture.
To eliminate flushes of foxtail, velvetweed, waterhemp and giant ragweed, he applied a half rate of Acuron preemergence after taking leaf tissue tests. At the V4 growth stage, he applied 24 ounces of Roundup PowerMax and a quart of Brandt Smart Trio containing 4% N, 3% sulfur, 0.25 % boron, 3% magnesium, 3% zinc plus 4 ounces of Stratego YLD per acre with an 80-foot self-propelled Case IH 3185 sprayer. To control northern corn leaf blight, heput on a fungicide treatment that included 13 ounces of Trivapro per acre with a helicopter at tassel time.
“I feel the most significant items that contributed to the total bushel count across the plot were early planting and feeding corn plants following recommendations after gathering leaf tissue samples,” Budden says. “Hopefully, a more normal weather pattern will set up during the growing season this year. If that happens and with a stroke of luck, I should be able to harvest an even higher yield this fall.”
Persinger lives in Milwaukee, Wis.