Thomas Kirkland farms in southeast Alabama, near Headland, growing about 1,400 acres of row crops, including cotton, corn and peanuts.

“We have about 300 acres of irrigation, watering all our corn crop. We usually grow about 200 to 250 acres of corn at any one time.

“Most of my water sources are creeks and streams, and we’re pumping out of a river in one location.

“On one 170-acre farm that’s leased we have a 12-inch irrigation well powered by an electric motor pumping 1,000 gallons per minute,” says Kirkland.

He normally has his mind made up by December about which corn varieties he’ll be planting the next year.

“We look at variety trials from Alabama, Georgia and Florida and try to select one that will stand up and has a good root system. Of course we look primarily at yield, because that’s what makes us money.”

Kirkland takes a 2.5-acre grid, site-specific soil sample and fertilizes accordingly. He pulls his soil samples at 8 inches.

He has done nematode sampling in the past, but it didn’t show a need to treat.

“In January, we spread about 3 tons of poultry litter per acre, and we disk that in. We haven’t had a problem with lodging. Much of that goes back to the genetics of the corn plant herself. We try to plant our corn about 2 inches deep, and that works best for us.”

When determining when to plant, he looks at the soil temperature posted by the Wiregrass Experiment Station in Headland and monitors it daily from their website.

“We try to be finished planting corn by the end of March. We plant strip-till and subsoil in the row with a Paratill. We shoot for a plant population of about 32,000. We put a pint of Dual behind the planter when we plant.

“We have had problems with nutsedge and Palmer amaranth resistant pigweed. As soon as we have a stand, we’ll go in with Roundup and the maximum rate of atrazine.

“Morningglory is also a problem in our fields. We put out about 250 units of ammonium nitrate and about 40 units of potash. That’s based on soil samples and the availability of nutrients from the poultry litter.

We monitor our soil moisture with tensiometers or water resistance blocks. We try to keep the moisture at field capacity until the black layer forms, and then we combine at about 25-percent moisture.”