Farm Journal Agronomists Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer (second and third from left) spoke to 120 farmers at the second annual Corn College in the South.
Farmers meet in Mississippi for Corn College
Corn seedlings now sprout each spring in fields across the South where cotton once reigned
supreme. Because commodity prices have favored corn in recent years, many Southern farmers have made the switch on their farms.
"We’d always grown corn, but it was mainly for rotational purposes. Today it’s an important cash crop," says Lee Graves, who farms near Somerville, Tenn.
For that reason, Graves attended the recent Corn College in the South event to advance his corn management knowledge. Farmers from nine states attended the seminar, which was sponsored by AgriGold, Agrotain, BASF and SFP.
Farm Journal Field Agronomists Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer focused on the Systems Approach to growing corn during the one-day program in Southaven, Miss.
"The Systems Approach provides the foundation for taking yields to a higher level," Ferrie says. "It helps farmers understand how many different variables there are that they have to manage to achieve top corn yields."
Ferrie explains that there are many details farmers have to address in any given season, including seed selection, planting, tillage practices, disease and insect control, fertility and soil density.
"It’s easy to focus on one thing, but farmers need to bring all those components together for success," he adds. "The more parts of the system that you can take care of, the better your yield outcome at harvest."
Bauer agrees: "When you focus on getting the fundamentals of corn growing right, you increase the likelihood of having a successful season."
Tennessee farmer Brandon Karcher says he now understands how important nitrogen management is for corn growth and development. He plans to put that knowledge to use this season.
"We’ve been too late on our nitrogen applications, especially sidedress," he says. "We probably need to put the sidedress on quicker or front-load our nitrogen, and we’ll probably do some of both this year."
Karcher expects the change will help his dryland corn crop get off to a strong start before heat and dry weather set in for the summer.
Focus on weeds. A good canopy provides the added benefit of reducing weed pressure, says Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension row-crop weed specialist.
- March 2012