‘Positive attitude’ first step in growing high corn yields: Part I

Would it surprise you to know that the 532-bushels-per-acre yield that led the 2015 National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest was grown no-till?

That may have been one of the most startling revelations David Hula, the Charles City, Va., grower who produced that world record yield, gave the 100 farmers who attended the Dulaney Seed/Agventure Corn University in Greenville, Miss., in early February.

“I’m going to separate myself from what y’all are doing here in the South,” said Hula, whose farm is located on the James River in Tidewater Virginia. “We’re in no-till or, as we say, never till. We’ve been continuously no-tilling some ground since 1987.”

When his farming operation picks up new ground, Hula said, he will knock down the beds that have been formed and go into a never-till program. He and his partners do have to harvest when it’s wet occasionally so they have to fix up the ruts they created.

“Now I know some of you plant cover crops on your beds, and I understand some of the challenges you face,” he said. “But I would have to figure out some way to no-till if I was farming here.”

Although Hula has won the National Corn Yield Contest at least twice and has spoken to farm groups all over the country, he confessed to being nervous before each time he speaks. To “calm his nerves,” he asked to lead the group in a brief prayer.

Then he laid out his philosophy for growing higher corn yields by using a hand as an illustration; the “Farmer Hand of Success, a concept he got from his daughter, Hula noted.

“The first digit on a hand that separates us from all the other animals in the kingdom is your thumb,” he said. “So I give y’all a thumbs up for being here today, and that’s the one where I say you have to have a positive attitude.”

Hula said he had a chance to hear Francis Childs, an Iowa producer who was one of the first to grow more than 400 bushels of corn per acre, speak a number of years ago. Childs had a list of 14 points he felt were important for growing higher yields.

“I thought he would start with hybrid selection or fertility or plant populations,” said Hula. “But the first thing he said you had to have to grow high-yielding corn was a positive attitude, and I just kind of slumped, thinking there had to be more to it than that. But I came to realize you have to be willing to change some things and that can require a positive attitude.”

To learn more about Dulaney Seed/AgVenture, go to http://www.agventure.com/company/regional-seed-companies/dulaney-seed-incorporated

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