While remarkable advances have been made in corn genetics, the fact remains that it doesn’t grow by itself, and good growers are required for good yields.

That was the point of a grower panel held during the recent Alabama Corn/Wheat Short Course in Shorter — for successful corn producers to share a few of their production practices and keys to success.

“In recent years, I’ve seen yields of grain crops in the Southeast increase more than I ever thought they would,” said Auburn University Extension Agronomist Charlie Burmester, who moderated the panel.

“Here in Alabama, even with a lot of our dryland acres, some of our farmers have been successful with corn yields, and I know some farmers in Georgia have done the same.

“They have access to more irrigation in Georgia than we do in Alabama, and they’ve really been able to push their yields to remarkable levels,” said Burmester.

The idea of the panel, he said, is to discuss practices that farmers are actually doing to produce high corn yields. “We do that a lot — just sitting around the coffee shop and discussing these things — so just think of this meeting hall as one big coffee shop,” he said.

Jared Darnell farms with his brother and father in north Alabama’s Tennessee Valley, growing cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.

“We double-crop soybeans behind wheat, which is as much double-cropping as we can do that far north,” says Darnell. “We’re about 10 percent irrigated, planting mostly no-till along with some minimum-tillage using the Great Plains Turbo Till.

“We’ve been planting no-till for about 10 years. We try to stay on a three-year rotation with cotton, corn and wheat/soybeans. We use a lot of poultry litter, and that has been a key to high yields for the past seven or eight years.”