“For next year, I’m still planning on planting all of my acreage over a week to 10-day period, but I’m going to spread my risks even more, over relative maturities and with different plant populations. The greater the plant population, the more things that have to go right, such as sunlight being crucial to the success of the crop.

“It’s something we could all do a better job with, so spreading my risks will be my major priority next year. We had 200 acres that were terrible, and it was nothing I did. The kernel count and the ear count were there. But the grain quality was terrible. It’s tough when the grain rots on the ear.”

This past year was literally the best of times and the worst of times, says Dowdy.

“It’s one thing if the quality reduces yield. But if you can’t sell it, and it’s a total loss, that’s something else altogether. I still haven’t sold some of my corn, and I’m not sure what I’ll do about it. It was truly a year of the haves and the have-nots.”

In a word, this past year was tough, he adds. “I picked some of the best corn I’ve ever picked, and ended up picking some of the worst corn I’ve ever picked. It started out wet and cold, and we didn’t think we’d ever get it planted – we were about one month late getting corn in the ground.”

To make things even more interesting, Dowdy added acreage in 2013.

“I picked up about 600 to 700 acres of cropland this year, and about 10 percent of it was in pines and hardwoods that had to be cleared before we could set up a pivot. That was a little educational for me. I had some new ground to go under pivots, and that’s always a challenge because there’s no fertilizer in the soil and there lime and pH issues. It was exciting to get the opportunity to grow some new acres, but I had land that was 35 miles from my house. That was a different experience. I put a lot of miles on my truck and a lot of sweat equity into this new cropland.”

Counting the double-cropped acreage, Dowdy is now farming about 1,800 to 2,000 acres. This past year, he had 470 acres of corn, 300 acres of peanuts, just under 200 acres of wheat and soybeans double-cropped behind wheat, and 400 acres of cowpeas behind corn.