Get Yourself a Pest Boss and Other Secrets of Growing 300 Bu. Corn

August 9, 2015 08:00 PM
Corn Sky Field

Want to harvest 300 bu. corn? You’ll want to start by planting a 300 bu. stand.

It may sound obvious, but Farm Journal Field Agronomist Missy Bauer suggests that farmers too often forget to connect all the different pieces that add up to strong yields. “We might do a really good job on our fertility program, but we’re missing the boat on weed control,” she said at Farm Journal Corn College in Coldwater, Mich., on Thursday.

To protect those bushels and boost farmers’ bottom line, she advocates a systems approach that integrates planting, soil conditions, tillage, yield-killers such as pests, weeds, and disease; seed choices; harvest loss data, and fertility programs.

As you might expect with a systems approach, you won’t be able to do this all on your own. “It’s all about what you know and who you know,” said Bauer.

She encouraged farmers to reach out to all potential resources of information and insight: consultants, equipment dealers, fertilizer dealers, seed dealers, universities, other growers, and more.  For those people who work directly with your farm as employees or advisers, you’ll want to keep them in the loop about any adjustments you plan to make to your farming practices.

“I’ve seen big mistakes happen because people don’t understand the implications of a change,” Bauer said. “You need to keep people informed.”

Ready to begin? Here are a handful of strategies she recommends for those want to grow 300 bu. corn from the ground up.

  1. Get to know your soil, which may require soil testing and experimenting with management zones so you make appropriate agronomic decisions.  Mother Nature will always be a major factor for farmers, Bauer said, “but we can be more proactive in our approach.”
  2. Have a “pest boss” who is in charge of managing weeds, insects, and disease. That means regular scouting, keeping up-to-date on pests and other threats, and making timely recommendations.  It’s best to give this important responsibility to someone internal to your farm, but if your labor force is already stretched thin, outsource the work. “You can’t tell an employee they’re in charge of pest management and then never give them the time to do it,” Bauer said.
  3. Keep good records of what genetics you planted where and when. Plant diseases can overwinter on residue, and if you plant the same variety in the same field the next spring, you are putting your yield at risk.
  4. Check your fields, especially those that have struggled, as the growing season ends. “Schedule high-risk fields for an early harvest,” Bauer said. “You’ll prevent harvest-time disasters and yield loss.”
  5. Pay attention to harvest loss on the front and the back. Even just a few kernels here and there can add up over your acres. “There are times when I think guys are leaving a lot in the field,” Bauer says.

Want to see what else farmers learned at Corn College? Click here for more stories and multimedia coverage. 

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Sponsors include: BASF, FMC, Great Plains Manufacturing, Plant Tuff, Top Third Ag Marketing and Verdesian.

What strategies have helped you protect bushels on your farm? Let us know in the comments.

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Spell Check

dexter, IA
8/16/2015 01:29 PM

  The great part about this research/education is that it gives us a better chance to grow 300 bushel corn if we need to. Current conditions are providing several break evens on inputs for more bushels. If the market conditions give a nominal return on your money for the input if it is effective (if) then it doesn't make sense to tie up capital in inputs just to add more bushels to next year's market. The key may be to exercise discipline and avoid the short term temptation of marginalized profit. Thank you for the continued education conversation .

flying farmer
nebraska city, NE
8/10/2015 10:44 AM

  good god, why would we want to push the idea of raising 300 bushel corn. Do you people really want to lose money that badly. Can you even imagine what corn would be worth if we got everyone up to 300 buA. It will start with a $1. The input costs will be astronomical and we will be losing money hand over fist. Not sure why farmers are the only people who are so dense they can not understand that when a market is saturated with a product, the cure for lack of profitability is NOT to bury the market even deeper. Price decline becomes exponential to oversupply. But hey. Seed sellers and fertilizer companies do make more money that way, and honestly, that is the most important part right??? Here is a thought. Every one go back to raising 125 bushel the acre corn. Cheap seed. Very little fertilizer cost. Corn prices in the $8 range. But nobody will ever do it. We are slitting our own throats and being told (and honestly, most are telling themselves) that we are doing the right thing by doing it. Stupid on levels I can not even begin to describe.

Rudy Hiebert
Abbotsford, BC Canada, AK
8/10/2015 09:27 AM

  Adding to what's in this article, which is already good information, I would like to expand on soil condition and add crop rotation. Soil conditioning begins in the fall were we live by planting Fall Rye and working it into the soil in the Spring. Adding to that, pea crops have been rotated into the regime. This parallels soil analysis. Since my days in the fields, I've come across a product called AGgrand which is liquid organic concentrate fertilizer. It's ability to perform is based on enhancing the organisms to thrive instead of killing them like what happens with chemical fertilizers.


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