David Hula, a farmer from Charles City, Va., set a new world corn yield record of 623.84 bushels per acre in the 2023 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest, managing the highest yield of the year and landing on top of the irrigated strip-till category. He is the only farmer in the contest to exceed 600 bushels per acre and has done so 3 times in 2019, 2021 and 2023, breaking his previous 2019 world record of 615.19 bushels. This is his 12th national high yield win in the contest and his 5th world corn yield record, according to a Progressive Farmer article.
"We tend to hang on to numbers here at Renwood Farms longer than most,” Hula tells Progressive Farmer. “We are slow to adopt new hybrids in high-yielding environments. But this new freshman class of genetics is outperforming the previous classes, and we do like what we are seeing."
For Hula, yields are not uniform across his farm, and different acres perform better or worse depending on soil and environmental conditions. Rainfall in 2023 was lower than average, and wildlife damage lowered his non-irrigated bushel per acre yield, according to Progressive Farmer.
"There are certain times a grower can influence his crop," Hula says. "When we open a bag of seed corn, the yield potential is as big as it is going to be. We just keep asking questions from there on — looking at tissue tests and moisture probes and weather forecasts to see if this crop is one worth continuing to push. This one was.”
Hula planted Pioneer P14830VYHR, a 114-day hybrid designed for the dry grind ethanol market. Because the P14830 hybrid had the potential to perform well, Hula added 575 pounds of nitrogen, 156 pounds of phosphorus, 480 pounds of potassium, 12 pounds of boron and 80 pounds of sulfur per acre spread across the growing season.
Hula’s main hobby, he says, is corn.
"I like to walk cornfields,” he explains. “I appreciate talking to other growers about corn. It's not a job when it is something you enjoy this much.”
It's a hobby he seems to have passed onto his son. Craig Hula managed the second-highest yield in the 2023 contest — and highest no-till yield — at 590.02 bushels per acre. His crop was entered in the no-till irrigated category with the Pioneer P10811 hybrid.
Winning entries averaged 373.27 bushels per acre, with all entries averaging 269 bushels per acre across 6,883 entries from 46 states.