This graphic illustrates factors that affect the Law of the Minimum, which traditionally states that yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient, whichever nutrient it may be. Randy Dowdy argues that the factors labeled on the staves of the barrel — such as compaction, disease and emergence — should be considered as well because they also contribute to lost yield potential. Image: Randy Dowdy

Is Your Mindset Causing a Yield Drag on Your No-Till Corn?

Taking an honest look at what is acceptable performance on your farm and challenging yourself to ask why can help you boost yields

As a corn producer, are you satisfied with 185 bushels per acre, the average no-till corn yield in 2022 according to No-Till Farmer’s No-Till Operational Practices Survey, or whatever your own farm’s overall average has been over the past several seasons

Since farmers are paid by weight for yield, what would it take for you to average an additional 5% across your farm? At $5 corn, that would amount to $46.25 per acre per year if you are at the 185-bushel level. Do you really want to know what it would take — or is 185 bushels “good enough”?

Randy Dowdy, a first-generation Georgia farmer, set the world record for no-till corn yield with 532 bushels per acre in 2014 and binned more than 100 bushels per acre of soybeans the same year. He attributes his success to asking the right questions — something he learned in his first career as a federal law enforcement officer.

“I’ve always asked why,” Dowdy says. “I’ve always been the guy who had to understand what happened, how it happened and why.”

He says growers who want to excel need to adopt that same mindset.

“I believe the difference between a good farmer and a great farmer is timing, attention to detail and their level of acceptance of what’s good enough for them,” he says.

Contest winners over the past decade have shown corn is physically capable of producing over 600 bushels of yield per acre when its nutritional needs are met. Geneticists estimate…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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