Growing corn and soybeans in the Mississippi River bottoms presents several opportunities, farmer Joe Zumwalt says. The water table is only about 6 feet to 8 feet below ground, which makes the liquid easier to access, plus the heavy black soil can retain and maximize limited moisture through the growing season.
At the same time, some key challenges arose this year. Pests of particular concern include the corn borer, requiring routine scouting. Japanese beetles are a large problem, too.
"If the entomology follows through, they’ll be in our neighborhood for about six more years," Zumwalt tells Farm Journal Radio’s Pam Fretwell.
(Click to read more: River-Bottom Corn Yields Push 220 Bushels)
Tillage such as ripping is common on farms along the river, Zumwalt explains. Irrigation is also growing in popularity. Zumwalt has 200 acres under irrigation, a fraction of his overall operation. A crop rotation of continuous corn is common on farms with more irrigation. As for Zumwalt, he’s gone from a 50:50 corn-soybean rotation in the past few years to a 60:40 or 70:30 rotation with more corn than beans.
Click the play button to hear the complete interview with Zumwalt: