One theme that consistently emerges from Dowdy’s corn production strategy is “change.” He credits his record-breaking yields to his willingness to try something new.

It’s important, he says, to try at least one new thing each year, and he certainly practices what he preaches.

“This past year, I tested a tillage method that’s a little different from what I’ve done in the past.

“I also looked at banding fertilizer rather than broadcasting it, and I looked at the full rate versus 60 percent of the rate to see what that net return would be.

“In addition, I experimented with different fungicides this year because I don’t want to use the same one year after year and build resistance.

He also experimented with seed population trials this past season, something he has done each year he has grown corn.

“As new hybrids become available, they respond differently to different populations. Also, I looked at twin versus single rows, and I planted variety trials to see what we might want to plant in the future.

“University trials rate the varieties, but I want to see what it does on my farm. I had a DeKalb variety to break 300 bushels this year, and I’ve never had that happen before. That was exciting.”

Dowdy’s best performing corn variety for 2013 was Pioneer 1303.

“It’s a 113-day corn, and it was my best by far, with great quality. The second best was DeKalb 6209, with excellent grain quality. It was a pleasure picking and harvesting those varieties. I’ve had experience with 1303 for two years now, and it has looked good both years.”

While excessive rainfall during the 2013 season helped to reduce irrigation inputs, Dowdy say he would much rather have had to water.

“This year, the rainfall cost me more in the long-run. If we get rain, we need for it to come in and be gone in a day or two. Straight-line winds, hail and strong thunderstorms — we had some of it all this year. But it is what it is — that’s farming.”

This past year, he planted seven corn hybrids for his production. “I was fairly diversified, but there will be even more diversity next year. We’ve got to spread our risks, especially in a year like last year.”