As the big red harvester chomped through Dulaney/AgVenture Seed Company's corn plots, the digital yield monitor in the cab consistently ticked off readings above 200 bushels per acre.
When the results were tabulated for the 16 varieties, dry weight yields ranged from 210 bushels to 245 bushels, said Terry Dulaney, president of the Clarksdale, Miss., seed firm.
“This just demonstrates what we've known all along — that with top quality varieties, careful planning, and good management, we can grow high-yielding corn in the Mississippi Delta,” he told farmers who attended the field day event.
“We plant and manage these plots exactly as we recommend for our farmer customers. Everything is grown under real-world conditions.”
The AgVenture hybrids have maturity dates that range from 110 days to 125 days. Most of the varieties in the plots will be available for 2008, although a few experimental lines are slated for 2009. All the corn plots were seeded at 32,000 plants per acre, were irrigated, and had 300 pounds of nitrogen applied.
With the national energy focus on ethanol, Dulaney said, “We believe corn is going to be a major crop in the Delta for several years to come, at least until cellulosic ethanol or other alternative energy forms become more viable.”
Although cotton acres have declined as a result of this year's large-scale movement to corn, “We believe cotton and corn can co-exist in the Delta, and be beneficial to each other. Today, modern corn varieties, in rotation with cotton, are offering not only yield benefits for both crops, but improvements in soil structure and fertility, dealing with weed problems, reducing erosion, discouraging pest buildups, and reducing reliance on agricultural chemicals.”
Stating a goal of producing consistent 300-bushel corn yields under southern growing conditions, Dulaney emphasized the importance of utilizing “secrets” that are part of the formula for achieving maximum yields. They are:
Plant exceptional quality seed: “Seed quality is the No. 1 factor in getting top corn yields. You can have the best genetics in the world, but if seed quality is only average, the variety will only produce average yields.”
Plant 2 inches deep: “To get top yields, plants need as many roots below ground as possible. When a corn seed is planted 2 inches deep, it gets five full nodes of underground roots, versus only three when planted more shallow.”
Develop a cropping plan: “Growers who develop a cropping plan far in advance of the next season have a huge yield advantage because there is more time to match the right varieties with the right fields.”
Understand the variables: “More than 100 variables control a corn crop. Our agronomists develop cropping plans that bring all this information into play to help the farmer control as many of those variables as possible.” Research has shown, for example, that 75 percent of all corn varieties never produce to their potential because they're planted on the wrong soils, Dulaney said.
“We work with farmers all the way from crop planning to harvest to help insure they get the best results from our quality seed. We're already working on crop plans for 2008.”