What is in this article?:
- Southeast corn growers share key details on how they achieve high yields
- North Alabama grower utilizes poultry litter
- Kirkland irrigates his entire corn crop
- Georgia grower has best and worst crop in one year
- Corn producers from Alabama and Georgia recently discussed a few of their key production practices at the Alabama Corn/Wheat Short Course.
Technology only gets a grower so far. From soil sampling, to burndown, to planting, to aggressive weed and water management to timely everything, good growers have to earn high corn yields.
CORN PRODUCERS SHARED some of their key production practices during the Alabama Corn/Wheat Short Course, held in central Alabama in mid-December. Shown are, left to right, Randy Dowdy of southwest Georgia, Jared Darnell of north Alabama, and Thomas Kirkland of southeast Alabama.
North Alabama grower utilizes poultry litter
Darnell has worked out agreements with local poultry growers who provide the litter he needs.
“Once we’ve established a relationship, whenever they clean out their houses, you take it whether you need it or not. We pay from $25 to $30 per ton, but that’s not spraying, it’s just dumping,” he says.
He soil-samples every year and limes whenever he needs it.
“We put out 2 tons of poultry litter in the spring using the Turbo-Till. When the soil temperature gets to about 50 degrees F. and the weather forecast looks pretty favorable for about two weeks, we’ll start planting, usually about March 10, though we have planted earlier.”
For a burndown, he uses Roundup, LeadOff, and sometimes 2,4-D or dicamba. Then, behind the planter, he’ll put out one-third of his 32-percent N-sol, Gramaxone and atrazine in a band on the row.
“We’ll spray over-the-top when corn is about 8 to 10 inches tall with Roundup and Capreno. Then we apply about 140 units of N-sol.
“Once you’ve been putting on chicken litter for about 10 years, you’ve always got a nitrogen source there, though it’s hard to say exactly how much. You’ll probably have to use more N-sol in the first two to three years of applying chicken litter.”
If it’s a good crop, sometimes he’ll apply a fungicide when the corn tassels.
Then, he’ll start harvesting corn at 22 to 23 percent moisture — whatever he thinks he can manage with his grain bin facilities.
“In 2012, our dryland corn yields were 65 bushels per acre and this past year they were 205 bushels per acre. We do the same thing every year, and then it’s up to the Good Lord from there.”
Darnell’s plant population on dryland acreage is about 28,500. On irrigated, he goes up to about 32,000. He does some variable-rate planting, going down to about 24,000 on the hills and 30,000 in the bottomland.
“We’re still planting 38-inch row corn which means we have to go very slowly with the planter.
“We sample our litter when it’s dry. I usually want to make sure I’m getting about a 50-50-40 per ton. We thought our phosphorus levels might go too high with chicken litter, but we haven’t seen that.
“We don’t lime at all anymore, and that’s one benefit I didn’t expect. We grid-sample on every 10 acres.”
Darnell has 210,000 bushels of grain-storing capacity, farming a total of about 5,000 acres. “We’ll get the crop out of the field and store some to get a basis.
“Having storage also allows us to harvest at a higher moisture rate. I can dry 24 percent corn down to 15 for about 10 to 12 cents per bushel, including gas and electricity. We’ve had our system for four years now.”
Darnell says he has become more involved in wheat production in the past five years.
“We do some light tillage in the fall to distribute the residue from corn and cotton. On 7.5-inch rows, you’re shooting for 24 seed per foot, which is about 1.5 million seed per acre.
“We apply 2 tons of poultry litter before we plant, and then about a month after planting, when wheat is about 2 inches tall, we’ll put out 7.5 gallons of N-sol and 7.5 gallons of water along with three-fourths ounce of Harmony.”
In the spring, when the weather begins warming up, Darnell puts out 20 to 25 gallons of N-sol, and then he’s finished with nitrogen.
“When the wheat puts out a flag leaf, we’ll put out a fungicide. We’ll spray three or four times, really managing wheat. Our crop consultant actually checks wheat more than he does cotton, so we don’t take off during the winter.
“We do a tissue analysis prior to the spring application of nitrogen, and we adjust accordingly. We’re regularly making 85 to 100-bushel wheat.”
He applies Prosaro fungicide, mainly for head scab. But some years he has to make two fungicide applications, one early at flag leaf and then the next when the head is developing.