Reaching the next level of production, he says, always means making adjustments that benefit both your production and your bottom line.

“I’d like for you to take a field this year where you can deliver the water the crop requires. Use a top hybrid and increase your plant population. If you’re at a 30,000 to 32,000 plant population, go to 34,000 to 36,000 plants.

“In this field, plant slowly and check your seeding rating and depth, stay at 1.5 to 2 inches deep. But more importantly, slow down. You’re not rushing so you can plant cotton or peanuts. You don’t have the competition for your time when you’re planting corn.

“Take your time, use more fuel, and get a nice, even distribution. Improve the uniformity of your stand. Get the crop up and growing all at the same time and maximize light reflection. If you’ve got one plant up earlier than the next plant, it’ll start shading that smaller plant. Reduce light interception — every plant in that field is important.”

Lee says growers should be using a starter fertilizer with N, P and K.

“One of the things we might be missing in Georgia is potash at planting. I see a real value when it comes to improving plant health and root production and mass.”

Target your fertility with a yield goal, he says, and stay ahead of early stress.

“Poultry litter is an excellent substitution. Use 2 to 4 tons, and use your analysis to determine the amount to credit your nutrients. Give yourself about 60 to 65 percent credit of nitrogen in the season — not at planting time — and 80 to 85 percent of phosphate and potash, in the season. If you’re using poultry litter, you need to be using a starter fertilizer.”

Reduce your weed competition through timely applications of herbicides, says Lee.

“We’ve got lots of good chemistries. When you make these treatments early, our trials show that with glyphosate and atrazine, you get about 95-percent effective control. If you wait to make those applications, you’ll lose control of the weeds and lose yields.”

There are several ways of gaining yield in a corn crop, says Lee.

“If you find a deficiency in a tissue analysis, it’ll make you between 5 and 30 bushels per acre. If you scout for disease, it can make you 5 to 25 bushels per acre. Treating for nematodes can gain you 10 to 40 bushels per acre. Insect control can gain you 5 to 15 bushels, and timely irrigation can gain you 30 to 100 bushels per acre.

“Don’t leave these bushels in the field. And we’ve learned that you can do this efficiently. We’ve still got a good enough price for corn to capture and maintain that yield.”

The last thing that can take money from you is aflatoxin, says Lee.

“You can save a lot of money by reducing aflatoxin problems, and this can be done by reducing the various stresses on the corn crop.”

phollis@farmpress.com