The National Corn Grower's Contest winner from the East Coast posted more than 450 bushels per acre in his plot. A farmer form Indiana beat 323 bushels per acre in the Beck's Hybrids 300-bushel challenge. In fact, five farmers from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan averaged more than 300 bushels per acre in that program when their yields were combined this year.
Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., says Mother Nature was responsible for up to 75% of the good yield this year. Even so, he believes there are practices many of these growers used that will pay off in the future. Here are some of his ideas.
Plant early: Nanda works with a grower near the Minnesota border in western Iowa that likes to start planting by April 10. He produces good yields every year. Nanda says it's all about capturing more sunlight. The peak period of sunlight each year is from late May into late July. He likes to see the canopy closed to capture that sunlight during that period. Early planting doesn't always win, but Nanda believes it is a long-term factor in raising high yields.
Tiled ground: Many farmers put in tile this fall, or intended to do so if the weather had cooperated. Being able to get a jump in the spring with well-tiled, pattern tiled land with the tiles close enough together to work effectively is essential, Nanda says.
Lime and soil fertility: Nanda believes lime is essential because when the pH is right, availability of nutrients is usually at its highest. Levels of phosphorus and potassium should be at least above the critical level so there's no chance they could pull down yields. He also is a believer in providing nitrogen to the plant when it needs it most. That means either sidedressing or a combination of sidedressing and application later in the season.