Kings outline plan to top 300 bushels of ‘dry’ corn

Managing Editor

HURLOCK, Md. (Sept. 30, 2014) — With good growing conditions this year, Jeff and Terri King had high expectations for the irrigated corn planted around their home farm.
But when they did a yield check recently on a 10-acre field that was irrigated for the first time this year, the yield was better than they had thought.
After calculating the check out to dry bushels and then getting it independently certified, they had 314 bushels per acre.
“I knew it was good corn,” Jeff said last week. “I was thinking 275, 280” bushels per acre, King said.
But 314 dry bushels? “That’s good corn,” he added with a slight grin.
The Kings said working in their favor was the ability to apply several small doses of fertilizer throughout the growing season through the field’s subsurface drip irrigation system installed by Root Rain over the winter.
Through the season, they fertigated 12 separate times, including three applications of phosphorus and potassium, basing the rate each time off of petiole sample data that showed what nutrients the plant needed.
“We feel like the crop probably picked it all up as we put it out there,” Jeff said.
This ability to “spoon-feed” the crop led to less total nitrogen applied compared to another irrigated field planted with the same variety, Augusta 5564VT2Pro, that got two nitrogen applications after planting, one sidedress application and one application through the center pivot.
The yield check on that field, also calculated to dry bushels and certified was 273 bushels per acre.
They were also able to forgo a second herbicide application in the drip irrigated field because the lack of weed pressure didn’t warrant it, Jeff said, and that field used much less water than the pivot-irrigated field
Also helpful to the Kings in managing the drip system was their 10 years of experience growing strawberries on plastic and fertlizing that crop through drip tape.
“We were already used to it,” Terri said. “We made mistakes growing strawberries and learned how to fix them.”
They also said using soil moisture monitoring equipment throughout the subsurface irrigated field to help determine when the crop needed water was invaluable.
“Our window is really small here from when you’re saturated and when you’re stressed,” Terri said.“We could watch the moisture level drop to where it would need water, before it would ever stress.”
“That was priceless and it would work for any irrigation system,” Jeff added.
Jeff said he is interested to see how the system performs in a year with less rainfall than this year and in growing soybeans which will be planted in the field next year.
The moisture levels in the fields where the Kings ran checks were too high to continue harvesting, so only a few acres were picked out of each field.
However, with promising yields to start with from both fields, Terri, who does the harvesting on the farm, said she’s itching to get back in the combine. “I’m ready,” she said. “Let’s go.”