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By Staff | Nov 2, 2012

My college buddy who strives to produce some of the best corn yields in the state is still combining.

His grain finally got down to 24 percent moisture as he was able to keep his fields green the entire season and then some. Grain fill and kernel depth looks excellent.

He is glad his monitor has the ability to show yields that climb above 300 bushels per acre in sections of his fields.

This week he will have a local competitive seed dealer take weigh wagon checks to verify his actual totals.

The local non-GMO premiums are above $1 per bushel so he gets an added bonus. He likes being aggressive in maintaining good plant health and is proactive against Goss’ wilt.

He used both Procidic and the copper materials and they work great for him. Some of what he does doesn’t meet scientific scrutiny since he will change more than one thing, but if a program approach seems to be working, why waste bushels to satisfy any naysayers and wait a whole year to make a change? Farmers can do research,, but most have to do what gives the best and sustainable return.

We both got the chance to visit with Dr John Cooper, the retired soybean breeder from Ohio State, who is famous for developing the semi dwarf varieties such as Elf, Gnome, Sprite and Apex.

A few growers have picked up on the Apex and found that with proper spraying of nutrients, vitamins, and biologicals they can be coaxed into producing very good yields.

Cooper still loves his narrow rows, while we would sooner plant thinner and boost pod number by increasing branch number and apply foliar calcium to make those branches remain partially upright.

He mentioned that when he worked with Herman Warsaw, of U.S. corn growing championships, recognized that he never grew yields over 200 bpa until he used placed fertilizer.

World Food Prize

In my afternoon at the World Food Prize event I took the time to wander through the exhibits.

Jerry Hatfield got my attention and told me that I should visit with representatives from a company called Perfect Blend.

They are out of Bellevue, Washington and have their first plant near Yakima. Now Jerry has been consistently saying that the best and maybe only way to maintain and boost crop yields is to boost soil structure so that it is more biologically active and holds an additional 3 to 4 inches of moisture that the crop can be caught during May and June rains and held until the crops need it in July and August.

If a person has soil like that they should be able to get the planter to put the seed at the recommended 2-inch depth and help force good brace rooting.

Then if the plants can scrounge water from the 6- or now 8-foot rooting depth they should not be as drought prone as we have seen many of them being during the drier summers we have seen in 2011 and 2012.

Anyhow the issue of how to build healthy soil is paramount. What is critical is having lots of humus in the soil, which under a scope looks like a horse collar with lots of little dimples in the surface.

Microbes use those dimples just as birds use a nest. They can then going about their business of producing organic acids and forming the glomalin that holds the soil together such that pore space integrity is maintained.

Well in their work the fertilizer company uses waste products and manure to make the little collars that can be applied directly to the soil to speed the development of organic matter.

The results from using it have been very good and could allow a farmer to boost their soil’s moisture holding capacity and quickly increase soil organic matter.

Keep an eye on it as there will be announcements on it within the state. There were too many fields that gave up the ghost early.

The plants had a limited root number and tried to grow roots into very compacted soil where there was little biology.

Bugs caused problems in many of those fields as did serious root and leaf diseases. Instead of carrying the dark green color more of them carried a striped appearance.

Then when stress hit the plants could not tolerate the heat and dry weather. Ears and pod counts in such fields were much below expectation.

Growers who had fields like that want different results next fall and need to identify and understand and remedy those problems.

New ideas

Now is the time when season ending and winter meetings begin to be held. They should be a time to add knowledge and ideas to what your information base on what you may want to incorporate into your farming operation.

Everyone should always strive to become better producers while maintaining a balanced financial sheet.

So what do you currently plan to do differently if crop yields were not where you wanted them to be. Weather was a big factor this year, but be sure you don’t blame all yield shortfall on lack of rain.

So keep an open mind through this season and be sure you have Plan A, B and possibly C ready to roll out if Mother Nature throws any wrenches into your prefect plans.

When you go to the meetings don’t be afraid to ask any questions or voice you opinions.

If you know you are right and have the yields to back it up, say so and teach others.

Good luck over the next few weeks.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.

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