Virginia farmer David Hula achieved what seemed to be the impossible in 2017. He had a farm pull in a yield of 542 bushels per acre, a monstrous yield that not only won the 2017 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest, but set a new world record.
“Everybody thinks there's a silver bullet,” said Hula. “They think it's a special piece of dirt.”
While not all of Hula’s acres reached 500 bushels per acre, there are several fields that can produce high yields. He says it has more to do with Mother Nature, irrigation, selecting the right seed and nurturing that seed through the entire year.
He actually thinks some of his ground could produce yields well above the 500 bushel mark.
“The seed technologies have brought us to where I do feel that the genetic potential is about 800 to about 850 bushels [per acre] in a bag when you go to open it,” said Hula.
He says the key to growing high-yielding corn is defending the yield potential from the start.
“Today we can't make more bushels,” said Hula. “It's just a system on how we're able to protect the bushels once we plant it. The seeds going to carry you so far. it gives you that foundation and then the management side is the key to where it allows you to save as many bushels as you can.”
While on the quest for higher yields, Hula says he’s learned having even emergence in the spring, plus generating strong plant health is key in growing more bushels. In order to do so, he says a farmer must break out of the mold of doing what he or she has always done.
“Most growers aren't willing to try something new,” said Hula. “They just keep doing the same thing over and over again.”
Hula knows having high-yielding corn isn’t cheap. He says if a farmer’s yield goal increases, so should their cost of production, but it’s all about finding the right recipe for success for one’s farm.
“I would recommend to most growers is to take one section of some field and try something new that they haven’t done in the past,” said Hula. “If they have good success there, try it on more acres the following year. I've had a lot more failures than I’ve had successes, and if I continue to kind of stop because I failed, we wouldn't be where we are today.”
By taking his yields to new heights, Hula hopes the 800 bushel per acre corn isn’t farm from his reach.