It's not everyday you get to spend quality time with some top-yielding farmers, but I had that privilege during the 2009 Farm Progress Show. I got to host a few sessions at the Pioneer exhibit as part of the Pioneer One Show and for two half-hour times during the event I was trading information - and barbs - with Kip Cullers, Purdy, Mo.; Jerry Cox, Delta, Mo.; Gary Porter, Mercer, Mo.; and Steve Albracht, Hart, Texas.
We had a lot of information to cover from these guys in a short time, from plant population lessons learned in contest plots that have been applied to production fields; fertilizer application timing for corn fields and a lot of other great information. However, one piece of information that stood out for me involves both the software (seed) and the hardware (the planter) in an operation.
Cullers notes that he wants to see a field emerge within 48 hours - which means when the first plant emerges he wants to be able to see the rest of the field out of the ground in that time. Yet, Albracht chimes in that he wants that to happen in seven hours - and Cullers agrees that the shorter timeframe is a good idea.
Albracht notes that he has an agronomist that actually was in a field when the first few plants were out of the ground and sat and timed that field one spring day. "I didn't sit around waiting, but he did," grins the Texas producer who tops 300 bushels per acre for corn on his irrigated production fields annually.
Sure enough, seven hours later, you could row the seedling plants in that field consistently, Albracht says.
This means a combination of timing, genetics and planter setup. While Cullers may chide me for being an "equipment" editor - it's hard to argue with the fact that consistent planter depth across a field is an important part of that short window of emergence. Setting up your equipment properly does make a big difference.
Mate that practice with top-yielding genetics, spoon-fed nitrogen and quality pest management and chances are you could be on a panel with these guys someday. Consider those factors as you review yield data from the 2009 crop year.