Georgia corn growers will have the opportunity in March to re-affirm the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Corn. The commission, established by a vote of the state's growers in 1996, administers corn checkoff funds that are used primarily for research.

Growers will be allowed to vote in the referendum from March 1 through March 30, says Dewey Lee, University of Georgia Extension agronomist.

“The Georgia Department of Agriculture will be sending out ballots to each corn grower in the state. If you haven't received a ballot by the end of the first week in March, contact the department of agriculture, one of the corn commission's board members or your county Extension agent. Growers will have 30 days to vote and re-affirm the checkoff and commission for the next three years,” says Lee.

For the corn checkoff to be re-established, farmers representing 25 percent of Georgia's corn production must vote, and a two-thirds positive vote must be achieved. The checkoff is set at one-cent per bushel of corn production. The state's growers producers about 27.1 million bushels of corn in 2001.

Due to declining corn acreage in Georgia in 2001, the commission wasn't able to fund as much research as in previous years, says Donald Chase, chairman of the commission.

“We have, however, funded about $100,000 in various projects. For the past two to three years, we've been concentrating primarily on long-term issues for Georgia corn growers, such as aflatoxin contamination and developing and testing corn hybrids adapted to Georgia conditions,” says Chase. Chase and the commission board members all are corn producers.

The commission also continues to fund educational projects in individual counties, he says, in addition to the annual Georgia Corn Short Course.

“When we initially went out and asked growers to vote for this checkoff, I told everyone that if we can't put dollars in your pocket, then I won't ask you to vote for us again. In estimating what we've contributed during the six years of the checkoff's existence, I'd have to say that we've probably put that money back into our pockets,” says Chase.

Some of the projects funded by the checkoff are of a long-term nature, he adds. “We all should look at this as an investment — an investment in the future of Georgia corn production. Funds are difficult to come by in farming, but funding corn research is a worthwhile endeavor. The corn commission is a tool to help us become more efficient producers. We're spending your money as if it were our own,” he says.

The following corn research proposals have been approved for 2002-2003:

  • Developing and testing corn hybrids adapted to Georgia which have a reduced susceptibility to aflatoxin: $13,000.

  • Using cultural practices, stacked-gene hybrids and spot insecticide application for insect management in strip-tillage systems: $7,000.

  • Soil quality and nutrient and water dynamics in high-residue conservation-tillage systems for corn: $10,000.

  • Genetic study of the resistance to Aspergillus flavus and aflatoxin production in the population GT-MAS:gk and development of aflatoxin-resistant corn lines adapted to Southern Georgia: $10,000.

  • Sustainable dryland corn production: development of drought-tolerant corn to manage preharvest aflatoxin contamination in Georgia: $10,000.

  • Technical support for the University of Georgia Extension Corn Improvement Team: $36,400.

  • University of Georgia Corn Extension education program support request for 2002: $4,000.

  • Irrigated corn production and water conservation measures: $10,000.

Total: $100,400.

Georgia recognizes top corn producers

By Paul L. Hollis
Farm Press Editorial Staff

Georgia corn growers produced record yields in 2001, topping out at an average of 123 bushels per acre on 220,000 acres. The downside of this past year, says University of Georgia Extension agronomist, was a drop in acreage.

“While record yields were obtained overall, total production was down by about 15 percent,” said Lee at the recent Georgia Corn Short Course in Tifton. “Despite dry weather in March, April and early May of this past year, late rainfall and more corn under irrigation pushed average yields higher than in previous years.”

Most agree, says Lee, that yields would have been slightly higher if not for a late Southern leaf blight infection in much of the state's late-planted corn.

“Bright, sunny days and cool night-time temperatures throughout much of the grain-fill period for early season corn allowed the crop to progress with plenty of carbohydrate production for good yields. Late-season rainfall helped dryland growers to harvest above-average yields,” he says.

Fewer entries were made in the 2001 Corn High Yield and Production Efficiency Program, but the quality of the entries received remained very high, says Lee. Only 38 entries were received compared to 59 in 2000. Entries were made from 11 counties. “These are excellent growers, and some of them produce corn in some of the worst soil types and weather conditions imaginable,” he says.

The winning yield in the irrigated category for 2001 was submitted by Robbie Brett of Jefferson County with a yield of 262.5 bushels per acre of Pioneer 31 G98. James Swancy of Gordon County submitted the winning non-irrigated entry with a yield of 225.4 bushels per acre of Garst 8288.

The most efficient irrigated producer was Jim Hobgood of Gordon County. He produced 255.4 bushels per acre of Pioneer 3163 for $1.41 per bushel. Hobgood also submitted the most efficient irrigated production in 2000. James Swancy also was the most efficient dryland producer with 225.4 bushels per acre at $1.20 per bushel.