Reach New Yield Levels by Implementing the Basics

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The professional football season wrapped up recently and so ended the season-long quest to win the prestigious Lombardi Trophy, the greatest achievement in the football world.

This award captures many aspects of winning, which can be summarized by consistent excellence in every detail on the field of play. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi earned the reputation of mastering the discipline of even the smallest of details: first in your thoughts; then on the practice on the field; and ultimately in the game. He was known to have very simple plays, but he coached his team to consistently master the very basic mechanics of each movement in the play, right down to the finest of details such as foot placement.

The same can be said for farming. Every farm operation is uniquely different, but there are still a few basics that are similar. It’s a good time of year to review some of the very basics of production, and how they affect yield.

University of Illinois Professor of Plant Physiology Dr. Fred Below has done a great job summarizing the factors that most affect corn yield.

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There are many things to consider, but I’ll focus on the top two factors that account for more than a 50% affect on yield:

-Weather is the most difficult and challenging factor, especially for non-irrigated soils. Ask the question, “How do the plant genetics I select help me manage the risk of weather, especially when considering the soil type?” For example, if the soil is heavy and wet, do the genetics handle that situation? Some plants will not do well in saturated soils. Likewise, if the soil is coarse and moisture is limited, will the genetics have a huge stress package? Agrisure® Artesian or Genuity® DroughtGard® hybrids are better suited to dry conditions.

-Nitrogen is essential for growth and reproduction of crops and is involved in many important plant biochemical processes, as evidenced in a publication by Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. While nitrogen is an important element, remember corn plants require 16 natural elements as they all work together. Yield and nutrient management is an extremely complex chemistry project. Over the years, scientists and agronomists have tried to simplify the recipe by focusing on N, P and K. Today’s technology allows us to expand and become even more site-specific with fertility.

Crop production is dynamic and challenging. At the end of the day, I hope you can have that deep sense of confidence that you have done your very best in forming and executing that production plan. My hope for you is that you will know deep inside you have done your very best, and that your best efforts will get you those Lombardi Trophy-winning yields!

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”

— Vince Lombardi