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Russell Hedrick turns just four inches of rain into good dryland yieldRussell Hedrick turns just four inches of rain into good dryland yield

John Hart

September 13, 2015

8 Slides

This has been the hottest and driest year 30-year-old Russell Hedrick has faced in his four years of full-time farming. As his corn neared the dent state, Hedrick had only received four inches of rain. Without cover crops, he said his corn and soybeans wouldn’t be worth harvesting.

Drought has devastated North Carolina’s Piedmont region this year, and many farmers called their crop insurance agents because their soybeans and corn weren’t worth harvesting. But a combination of no-till and multi-species cover crops, Hedrick is shooting for 110 bushels per acre in corn, a good yield in a drought year.

Last year, when moisture was adequate, Hedrick was able to produce 224 bushels of corn per acre. Still, it is this year when cover crops and no-till have really shined, he said.

Cover crops are a tool, just like no-till, and, Hedrick explains, the two must work together. An important key is the mixed species blend of five different plants: cereal rye, triticale, oats, crimson clover and tillage radishes that helps build soil nutrients, moisture and increased organic matter.


About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

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