Using the popular television series Duck Dynasty as a model, North Carolina State University Corn Specialist Ronnie Heiniger laid out his plan for a ‘Corn Dynasty’ in the state at the recent All Commodities meeting in Durham, N.C.

Heiniger says the Carolinas are in desperate need for grain to feed the region’s growing livestock industry. In the Carolinas alone, he says, livestock growers need 350 million bushels of corn to feed animals.

Imported corn from the Midwest costs livestock growers an additional $1.30 in shipping cost, and they cannot stay in business with those expenses, he adds.

If North Carolina were an independent country, the state would be the fourth largest importer of corn in the world.

“If we lose some or part of our livestock industry, corn and grain growers will lose their biggest and best customer — that’s why we need to develop a ‘corn dynasty’ in our region, Heiniger says.

Looking at production a little differently is going to be a key to building a consistent high yielding corn dynasty in the state, Heiniger adds. “Depending on having consistent years of good weather, like we had last year, is probably not going to get us where we need to go in corn production.”

Last year North Carolina corn growers averaged 126 bushels per acre, but over the past few years yields have been up and down, primarily due to unusual weather patterns. “It’s clear we need to see more irrigation — our landscape needs to look more like the Midwest, dotted with irrigation pivots, if we are going to start a new dynasty,” Heiniger says.

“Irrigation alone isn’t the answer, but can be an integral part of a high yield corn system. Because of ongoing weather changes and the sometimes dire impact on corn yields and quality, we have to take a more flexible look at planting dates, and irrigation gives us some added flexibility.

“We have technology in place today that allows us to plant corn late, if we need to, and some years we do need to plant late, he adds.