AmericanFarm.com

Hula settles for runner-up, behind Georgia grower’s 503-bushel yield

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

CHARLES CITY, Va. (Jan. 6, 2015) — For most of a decade, David Hula of Renwood Farms has been hailed as the nation’s top corn grower.
In 2014, even though he logged another 400-plus bushels-an-acre year, the crown slipped away to a Georgia grower who makes a career, and an accompanying consulting service, out of growing what he calls “big corn.”
Randy Dowdy of Valadosta, Ga., topped 8,128 other growers in the 2014 corn yield contest sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association with a certified yield of 503 bushels an acre.
He had planted DeKalb seed on irrigated land.
Hula’s second place yield in the contest, NCGA’s 50th, was 476 bushels an acre in the No-Till StripTill Irrigated class.
It was Hula’s highest yield in the NCGA annual contest but he suspected it might be when, during the harvest, his monitor hit 500 bushels on several occasions.
He credited the harvest primarily to a summer which was wet early on but turned unusally cool, in July and August, after pollination, offering an extended period for grain fill, giving the kernels a long time to develop.
“Everything came together” he said.
Like his father, son Craig came in second too, in this case second to his father, logging 406 bushels an acre in the No-Till Strip Till Irrigated class.
“What’s that say about growing corn these days?” the elder Hula asked. “Grow 400 bushels and come in second.”
The competition is run in six classes.
Recognition is afforded to the top three yields in each class.
Remarkably, the 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 383.6 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 173.4 bushels per acre in 2014.
Maryland claimed a national winner as well. He is Harrison Rigdon of Jarrettsville. He harvested 353 bushels an acre in the Non-Irrigated class (See Page 11).
Dowdy, who says he is a first generation farmer, has a web site, growbigcorn.com.
“Do you understand the Law of the Minimum,” Dowdy asks. “Do you understand plant physiology and components of yield?”
These, he implies, are “the secrets of my success.”
“The key to high yields is to minimize stress,” Dowdy writes on the web site and offers this: “If you are serious about increasing your corn production, then put me to work for you.”
Four of Dowdy’s entries, in the various classes of the competition, were over 400 bushels an acre.
Maryland growers were among the top three 13 times in listings of the state winners and Maryland’s own Chip Bowling, NCGA president, was thrilled.
“The yield contest always generates a lot of interest, but this year brought to accomplishments that I find particularly exciting,” said Bowling.
“First, it is thrilling to see an entry surpass the 500 bushel per acre threshold. We have made so many advances in the technology and techniques that we use to grow corn over the past decades. This achievement is a testament to innovation in modern agriculture.
“Second, I am personally happy to see one of our national winners hailing from my home state. While we may not be considered traditionally part of the Corn Belt, Maryland farmers excel in ways which can sometimes be overlooked. Now, we are in the national spotlight, and the entire country sees what an exciting time for agriculture it is in Maryland today.”
The Hula farm, Renwood Farms consists of about 3,000 acres, of which 1,300 are devoted to corn. The “spread” stretches over three different counties — James City, New Kent and Charles City — and actually benefits by its proximity to three different rivers: James, Chickahominy and Pamunkey.
In 2012 and already a three-time national corn-growing champion, Hula had been breaking the 300-bushel barrier on a regular basis since the year 2000.
But 2011 was his first harvest over the 400-bushel mark.