Studying corn, understanding its nutrient and water needs, and taking a timely approach to agronomic practices builds crop yields, says this south-Georgia farmer.
In Randy Dowdy’s experience, good soil is not a prerequisite to growing outstanding corn yields. Instead, a time-sensitive systems approach to growing corn is what makes consistently high yields possible, says the Valdosta, Ga., corn grower and yield champion.
Dowdy knows what he’s talking about. Despite having soils he describes as mediocre – with organic matter of less than 1% and a caution exchange (CEC) of 8 or less, which is poor (CEC is a measurement of how well soils hold onto nutrients) – Dowdy consistently averages irrigated corn yields in the high 200s to mid-300s.
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy placed first in Georgia and second nationally in the 2011 NCGA yield contest in two categories with yields of 352 bushels and 364 bushels per acre, respectively.
He placed first in Georgia and second nationally in the 2011 NCGA yield contest in two categories with yields of 352 bushels and 364 bushels per acre, respectively. He also won the 2010 state yield contest and the National Corn Growers’ Yield contest for Georgia, in the irrigated division, with 279 bushels per acre.
This year, because of too much rainfall, excessive cloudy days, and chemical stress his overall field averages varied as much as 150 bushels. Even so, Dowdy looks forward to hearing the results of the NCGA 2012 yield contest as he has entries as high as 374 bushel per acre.
The interesting thing about those wins and Dowdy’s subsequent bin-busting yields in the last three years, is that he is a farming newcomer. He started growing corn only six years ago after buying some land no one else wanted to farm and that he describes as "so eroded you could hide a truck in the washes."
Faced with that handicap, Dowdy decided early on to focus his attention on two things: corn plant physiology—how corn grows and develops—and, secondly, on best management practices that would support corn development at each growth stage. Dowdy will tell you those two factors, along with his faith, formed a solid foundation for his success.
"That and the fact that I’m real competitive with myself," he says, with a laugh.