What is in this article?:
- Randy Dowdy breaks 400-bushel corn barrier in challenging year
- Will spread risks in 2014
- Planting season started slow
- South Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy broke the 400-bushel barrier in corn yields in 2013.
- Weather conditions caused a one-month delay in planting corn.
- This past year proved the importance of weather conditions during certain grain-fill periods.
Planting season started slow
“This year just started out slow,” he says. “Normally, I’m finished planting corn by April 1. I started on March 12, planted 20 or 30 acres, and then planted about 100 acres March 18 through 22, including 80 acres in one day. Then, we changed farms and got 9 inches of rain in a two-week period on the corn that was planted early and lost part of our stand, but it turned out to be the best corn we had.
“Corn that was planted through April 14 was phenomenal until six weeks before harvest. During those last six weeks it rained every day, and the weather was cloudy. On Aug. 29 or Aug. 30, I picked my last acre of corn, and that was a full month later than normal.”
From Jan. 1 through the end of August, the rainfall total here on Dowdy’s farm was about 80 inches. He normally get about 50 inches, so he was 30 inches above the yearly average.
“It was wet, and it really took a toll on grain quality. The ears on the newer hybrids stand up, shucks are loose, and some are more susceptible to ear rot. It was all about planting date and the relative maturity of the hybrid that was planted. With these hybrids standing straight up, the shucks are loose and water goes down into the ear. Grain damage to some of these varieties was up to 50 to 60 percent. It was so bad that I don’t even think I’ll be able to sell it. But some of the earliest corn I planted was some of the best corn that I had.”
Dowdy says he would rather have finished the season on a high note instead of a low one, but that’s part of farming.
With peanuts and soybeans harvested, Dowdy was looking to harvest cowpeas around Thanksgiving. “We’re planting cowpeas for seed behind corn. If we don’t get an early frost, we’ll be fine and hopefully make up for some of that bad corn.”
Looking at his final corn yields, some entire fields made more than 300 bushels per acre, and others made much worse, he says.
“It’s just hard to get a crop that close to the finish and then lose it. We had a wind storm that came through in July and blew 40 acres down flat. It even blew down 100-year-old oak trees and pine trees. It’s disheartening, but it is what it is, so we lost some corn to that. We couldn’t even pick up much of it to use for silage.
“It’s disheartening when you get that close to harvest, and you do all that you can do, put a lot of hard work, time and money into it, and then the weather takes it out. It kind of hurts your soul, but God’s in control, and I’m just along for the ride.”
For more information about Dowdy's production practices and the services he offers to other growers, see www.growbigcorn.com
Next, Dowdy discusses plans for his 2014 crop.
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