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Corn yields topping 300 bushels during drought are testaments to genetics

Even in a drought-limited year, regional state winners in the National Corn Growers Association yield contest grouped around 300-bushels per acre yields. An Extension agronomist says the contest shows possibilities in modern corn genetics and the combination of optimal weather and input management.

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The National Corn Growers Association's annual yield contest had winners in the upper Midwest that topped 300 bushels per acre, while the national winner topped 600 bushels per acre. Kallie Jo Coates / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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The National Corn Growers Association Corn Yield Contest winner again topped 600 bushels per acre.

David Hula of Charles, City, Virginia, for the second time went over that mark, this time with 602.1694 bushels per acre.

There were 27 national winners in nine production categories, with verified yields averaging more than 376.76 bushels per acre, compared to a projected average of 177 bushels per acre national commercial yield.

In a year that started out in drought , top state yield winners in conventional, non-irrigated categories included North Dakota at 299.9 bushels per acre, Minnesota at 300 bushels per acre, South Dakota at 277.6 bushels per acre, and Iowa at 320.96 bushels per acre.

Clair Keene, North Dakota State University Extension agronomist in small grains and corn, called the results “definitely impressive.” It shows the “genetic potential of modern corn varieties, and there’s some value to that,” she said.

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Keene noted that the contest reflects yield on a 10-acre plot, however, and so is “cherry-picked,” and the farmers are supplying “sufficient fertility, probably more than sufficient fertility.” Commercial farmers, of course, must consider the profitability of inputs. The results probably are associated with high rates of starter fertilizer, multiple in-crop fertilizer applications, and “squeaky-clean” pest control.

She said she’s impressed with 300-bushel yields, and a 600-bushel yield is a “really big jump,” from that. She said she is curious about the size of the ears, the number of kernels, the fill, and other statistics that produce such yields.

Keene said winners no doubt had a “season that is super, super conducive to good yields” with the “right humidity, warmth during pollination and never water-stressed before, during and after pollination,” as well as favorable harvest.

Besides as a curiosity, one big plus for the contest is that it connects farmers with the National Corn Growers Association, an advocacy group for the industry. “It’s an engagement tool; it’s a good thing,” she said.

Here is a quick look at top winners from selected states in the region, including the category (where available), winner, town, variety and bushels per acre.

North Dakota

  • Conventional Non-Irrigated — Steve Huber, Berlin, DEKALB, DKC45-66RIB, 299.9246 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch Ridge-Til Non-irrigated — Betty Huber, Berlin, DEKALB DKC45-66RIB 299.991 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Irrigated — Bobby Frauenberg, LaMoure, DEKALB, DKC45–95RIB, 275.7297 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — John Hofer, Milnor, DEKALB, DKC50-08RIB, 289.3177 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Chad Vander Vorst, Pollock, Pioneer, P9492AM, 283.8644 bushels per acre.

Minnesota

  • Conventional, non-irrigated — David Heublein, Lewiston, DEKALB, DKC60-80RIB, 301.0291 bushels per acre.

  • No-Till Non-irrigated — Chris Sobeck, Winona, DEKALB, DKC60-80RIB, 308.8026 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-irrigated — Jennifer Pospichal, Leweiston, DEKALB, DKC60-80RIB, 298.3469 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Irrigated — Fred Bauer, Hastings, Pioneer, PO720AM, 307.8492 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — Deanna Sobeck, Winona, DEKALB DKC60-82RIB, 278.1214 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional irrigated — David Kolb, Paynesville, Pioneer P0421AM, 295.0846 bushels per acre.

South Dakota

  • Conventional Non-Irrigated — Eugene Johnson, Flandreau, DEKALB DKC54-65RIB, 272.5882 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Non-Irrigated — Scott McKee, Hawarden, Pioneer, P1185Q, 281.1476

  • bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch Ridge-Til Non-irrigated — Brennen Reid Bird, Elk Point, DEKALB DKC63-91, 288.47.58

  • bushels per acre. (Bird won another class, and each entry can only win one class) First place, Harold Wipf, Scotland, Pioneer, P1366Q 266.6552 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — Brennan Reid Bird, Elk Point, DEKALB DKC59-82RIB, 313.2930 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Bob Creasey, Geddes, Pioneer, P1185AM, 318.3803 bushels per acre.

Iowa

  • Conventional Non-Irrigated — Brant Voss, Dexter, DEKALB, DKC66-18RIB, 320.9558 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Non-Irrigated — Kyle Schomers, Westphalia Wyffelds Hybrids W7696RIB, 322.2593 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch Ridge-Til Non-irrigated — Jim Gregory, Tabor, Pioneer, P1563AM, 320.7997 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Irrigated — Connor Garrett, Arion, Pioneer, P2089AM, 387.9393 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — Melissa Schleisman, Lake City, Pioneer, P1366Q, 300.9674 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Brandy Winter, Lake City, Channel, 216-36STRXRIB, 294.5072 bushels per acre.

Montana

  • No-till Irrigated — Lane Lowell, Park City, Pioneer P921Q, 249.2478 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — John Yerger, Hardin, Pioneer P9489AM 228.8706 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Bart Icopini, Hysham, Pioneer, P9489AM, 259.206 bushels per acre.

Nebraska

  • Conventional Non-Irrigated — Jonathan Bodlak, Wakefield, DEKALB DKC65-95RIB, 272.5488 bushels per acre.

  • No-till, Non-irrigated — Marvin and Glenn Wiles, Plattsmouth, DEKALB DKC67-94RIB, 319.5274 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch Ridge-Til Non-irrigated — Bradley Ward Zierott, Murdock, Wyffels Hybrids, W7888RIB, 291.6332 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Irrigated — Rocky Peterson, Bertrand, Pioneer, P1563AML, 343.3292 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — Creighton Peterson, Smithfield, Channel 217-76VT2P, 247.9264 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Ashton Peterson, Bertrand, Pioneer P1847AMXT. 338.230 bushels per acre.

Wisconsin

  • Conventional Non-Irrigated — Jared Ripp, Dane, DEKALB, DKC58-06RIB, 322.5088, bushels per acre.

  • No-till Non-Irrigated — Tim Appell, Shullsburg, DEKALB, DKC64-35RIB, 323.9837 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated Scott Berget, Gratiot, DEKALB, DKC63-90RIB, 322.0204 bushels per acre.

  • No-till Irrigated — Matt Hinz, Amherst, Golden Harvest, G95M41-5122 E-Z Refuge, 245.7463 bushels per acre.

  • Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated — John Stasiak Holmen Golden Harvest G03R40-5222 E-Z Refuge 250.6965 bushels per acre.

  • Conventional Irrigated — Jeff Laskowski. Plover, DEKALB DKC62-20RIB 290.6533 bushels per acre.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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