Palo Alto County farmer wins irrigated yield contest
By LARRY KERSHNER
Farm News news editor
WEST BEND – When April 11 rolled around, Joel Schmidt fired up his readied John Deere 8130 and towed his John Deere 1770 planter onto his fields and started his planting chores for 2012.
Schmidt, who lives in West Bend, was named on March 2 as the Iowa yield contest winner in the irrigated division with a 235.0256 bushel-per-acre yield in the National Corn Yield Contest. He also finished in the top 10 in the nation in that category.
The annual contest is sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association.
Schmidt planted Dekalb DKC57-50 in a 160-acre field near Ottosen.
He was one of 411 state winners nationwide. The 2011 contest had a record 8,431 entries from 46 states. Of the state winners, 18 growers three from each of eight classes were named national winners, representing 12 states.
The average yield among national winners was 313.1 bushels per acre – greater than the
2011 U.S. average of 146.7 bushels per acre. Ten entrants recorded yields of 300 bushels or more per acre.
“It’s great to see so many growers taking part in this annual contest,” said NCGA Chairman Bart Schmidt, a corn grower from Kulm, N.D. “Their spirit of innovation and competitiveness is what makes America’s farmers so great.
“That’s why this contest and its focus on safe, advanced corn production methods are so important,” Schmidt continued. “The top yield in this year’s contest – an amazing 429 bushels per acre achieved by David Hula of Charles City, Va., – is a testament to these efforts.”
Schmidt, who farms with his father, Jerry Schmidt, and his brother Jamie Schmidt, said this was his eighth year in the national contest and was surprised at his state win, since his 2011 yield was several bushels less than his 2010 yield, when he finished third in the state. He plans to enter the 2012 contest, as well.
Schmidt credits his 200-plus bpa results to a combination of his irrigation system, using manure from his hog houses, with supplemental applications of nitrogen throughout the growing season. His plant populations are set between 34,000 to 37,000 plants per acre.
He’s able to incorporate additional nitrogen either by side-dressing, or through the irrigation system, especially at tasseling.
An average 80-acre tract, Schmidt said, will get an application of the hog manure every other year. He prefers the manure to a conventional nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus application.
“It’s not a salt-based fertilizer,” Schmidt said of the manure. “It’s an organic (source) and we see it in the quality of the soil.
“Through soil testing we’re seeing that the organic matter and the micronutrients are all there.”
His state win earned him an invitation to attend the Commodity Classic last month in Nashville, Tenn. Schmidt said attending events like that gives him a chance to talk to other contest winners and listen to steps they take to massage larger yields from their acres.
Schmidt markets his corn through Farmers Cooperative in Ottosen, where he serves as a board member. He said much of the corn is used for livestock feed and some sold to the Valero ethanol plant in Fort Dodge.
Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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