This Week’s Headlines
Hula returns crown to Dowdy in rotating reign
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(Dec. 27, 2016) The national “corn king” crown fits two men. They have been sharing it for four years.
David Hula of Virginia and Randy Dowdy of Georgia have been alternating as undisputed winners of the National Corn Growers Association’s annual yield competition since 2013.
The crown for 2016 goes to Dowdy with a yield of 521 bushels an acre. Hula, last year’s champion, managed only to came in second in the no-till strip-till division with a yield of 485 bushels an acre.
In 2015, Hula broke the 500-bushel barrier for the first time with a yield of 532 bushels an acre.
For 2016, the only other yield more than 500 bushels was logged by an entry listed to Kevin Dowdy in the Irrigated division. That entry was certified at 501 bushels per acre.
This was the first time in the 52-year history of the NCGA contest that two yields surpassed 500 bushels an acre in the same year.
Improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices are helping corn growers achieve ever higher yields, according to the NCGA.
Additionally in 2016, a record five national entries surpassed the 400-plus bushel-per-acre mark.
The 2016 contest attracted entries from 7,972 growers.
The Mid-Atlantic boasts two other national winners — both in the Non-Irrigated division.
Leading the division was Heath Outrel of Chesapeake, Va., with a yield of 347 bushels an acre. In second place was Drew Haines of Middletown, Md., who logged in with 324 bushels an acre.
Dowdy makes a career, and an accompanying consulting service, out of growing what he calls “big corn.”
Dowdy, who farms in Valadosta, Ga., topped the 2014 corn yield contest with a certified yield of 503 bushels an acre.
Hula’s second place yield that year was 476 bushels an acre and was Hula’s highest yield in the NCGA annual contest to that point.
Dowdy returned to the contest in 2015 to place first in the Irrigated division with a yield of 486 bushels an acre.
Hula, a consistent win, place or show winner through more than a decade’s time, had the crown slip away in 2014.
But he answered in exclamation points, establishing an all-time record for the contest with an astonishing yield of 532.0271 bushels per acre.
This trip around, Dowdy logged his 521 bushel yield with an AgriGold variety AG6499 STX/RIB. At an Agrigold press event, he encouraged farmers to try new things and be willing to do things differently than they’ve always done and be a student of the crop. “Know what’s going on in the field, don’t hope what’s going on,” he said.
“I always try, in all of the meetings that we go to, to influence growers that a definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results,” Dowdy said. “We farmers are creatures of habit.
“Jesus could tell some farmers what to do, and they still wouldn’t do it any different.”
For 2016 the 18 national winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 375 bushels per acre, compared to this year’s projected national average of 175.3 bushels per acre.
Winners receive national recognition in publications such as the NCYC Corn Yield Guide, as well as cash, trips or other awards from participating sponsoring seed, chemical and crop protection companies.
In San Antonio, during the 2017 Commodity Classic, winners will be honored during the NCGA Awards Banquet and the NCYC State Winners Breakfast.