Dowdy has no doubt this year’s yields were limited significantly, and he believes he can top his winning corn yields.

“When I planted, I unfortunately had an issue with the planter. I had inconsistent seed placement, with doubles and triples and skips. Throughout the growing season and especially at harvest, you could tell there was a problem with consistency. It probably cost me 15 to 20 percent of my yield. Needless to say, I no longer have that planter.

“The genetic potential of hybrids before we plant them, according to what research tells us, is 600 to 800 bushels. If I average 50 percent of that yield potential, compared to most people’s standards, I’d make an A. But if a professor was grading me, I’d make an F. 

“Often, the yield-limiting issues are things that are within our control. We can’t control things like temperature and rainfall, but we have to do our part, and timing is everything.”

His yield goal for 2012 is 400 bushels per acre. “Last year, it was 300 bushels, and the good Lord blessed me. I take copious notes throughout the year, and I did some experimenting this past year that I’ll do on a grander scale this next year.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that some of the things I did increased my yields. I’ve already booked corn for next year and started purchasing and taking delivery of fertilizer.”

Dowdy hopes that whatever he is doing to achieve high corn yields can be used by other farmers.

“Some farmers haven’t grown corn in years, and things have changed, so maybe I can help them.  Farmers have to be flexible and be willing to change current and past production practices and/or do things more timely with an emphasis on producing as much as possible and making every acre count.

“Cost-per-acre will go up with my system, but everything I do is based on return on investment. It’s not about winning a contest — it’s about making money. Nine times out of 10, if you have top yields you’ll make money.”

The son of a minister, Dowdy says he started doing farm work with people in his father’s congregation when he was eight or nine years old. He attended college, obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and worked professionally for awhile.

“I initially started buying land for an investment and for recreation, because I love hunting. Then, to help the land pay for itself, I started farming. I’ve been farming on my own since 2002, beginning then with food plots.

“In 2004, I started farming row crops. In the beginning, I asked peer farmers a great deal of questions and much credit for my success must go to the University of Georgia staff, specifically agronomist Dewey Lee. Dewey has been a friend and very helpful with answering my never-ending questions throughout the years, for which I am very thankful. 

“It has been very difficult at times to succeed because I’m a first-generation farmer. I’m buying all of my own land and my own equipment, but I am not complaining. The good Lord has blessed me thus far, and I will keep trying to get to the next level.”

phollis@farmpress.com