What is in this article?:
• Putting the two high profile grain growers together in the same room at the recent Commodity Classic held in Orlando, Fla., proved to be a real challenge.
• Finding a room big enough to hold all the growers wanting to hear what Cullers and Hula had to say about growing high yielding crops.
TOP GROWERS, left to right, David Hula, Bob Little and Kip Cullers shared their thoughts on producing high yielding crops at the recent Commodity Classic.
A little more blunt
Cullers was little more blunt. “I get that question about being a professional farmer a lot. My usual response is, “If you can grow 160 bushels of soybeans per acre, you can’t buy enough inputs to make it unprofitable.”
Like Hula, Cullers said he doesn’t do much different with competition crops than he does with any of his crops.
“We use what we consider to be our most productive land and we tweak the timing of some of the things we do with timing and rates, but there is no big input cost for our competition crop that is different from any of our crops, Cullers said.
An Illinois farmer asked, Do you put cover crops on any or all of your fields?
Hula said, “We’re in the seed business, so any field in which we plan to plant small grains, we can’t afford to use a cover crop. We do plant a lot of winter crops, so we do have something on most of our land most of the year,” he added.
The Virginia grower did mention a three-year test he had using tillage radishes on a 300 acre field on his farm. The first two years, he said, didn’t do much in terms of growing radishes. The third year he had a spectacular crop of radishes, along with an unusually warm winter and spring.
“By April, those 300 acres of radishes smelled pretty bad, and the land owner convinced us we didn’t need to grow tillage radishes, Hula said.
Little, who is a certified crop advisor and grain farmer in Indiana said he uses cover crops in special situations.
“I don’t see the crop benefit or the economics of planting a cover just to have a cover crop there,” the Indiana grower said.
All three growers agreed cover crops can be a good thing, if there is a specific need, but just adding a cover crop without a specific reason isn’t something they do.
A farmer from northwest Iowa asked, What are the advantages and disadvantages of no-till farming?
“We started conservation-tillage in the 1970s, but there just wasn’t adequate equipment to do the job right. Then, you guys in the Midwest got into no-till big time, and we thank you for generating enough interest among the equipment folks to build no-till equipment we can use in Virginia,” Hula said.
He added that the first three years they were in no-till, they built crop residue rapidly and really improved the quality of their soil.
“Now, our crop residue goes away so quickly, we have a hard time building it up. If we harvest corn before Sept. 10, we let the stalks decay normally. If we harvest much earlier or later than that, we add something to it to make break down quicker, Hula said.
The Virginia grower said the proximity of his farm to the Chesapeake Bay, and all the national attention that situation draws, almost mandates they be no-till farmers.
The combined agronomical advantages of no-till and the environmental acceptance of the practice among environmentalists make it a common practice in our part of the country, Hula said.