David Hula captured top no-till yield honors in last fall’s National Corn Growers Association contest with a yield of 319.3 bushels per acre. While this Charles City, Va., no-tiller’s result was about double the current national average, 300 bushels is a yield some industry leaders are anticipating as being typical just 20 years from now.
With improved seed corn and more efficient use of other inputs over the next 20 years, Monsanto officials expect growers to reach the 300-bushel plateau with one-third fewer inputs.
This need for more corn is based on Food and Agriculture Organization projections that will require the world’s food supply to double by 2050 to feed an increasing population with an increased appetite for grains, meat and other products.
Besides the current yield boosts we’re seeing each year with biotech, new developments should have an even more dramatic impact on yields.
“Just with the use of the new SmartStax traits, we’re looking at a 5% to 10% improvement in corn yields for 2010,” says Troy Coziahr of the Monsanto Learning Center in Monmouth, Ill. “New seed treatments, more consistent and better rootworm control, a reduced refuge, new drought-tolerance genes and more efficient use of nitrogen will all play a key role. Just reducing the size of the refuge area should push up corn yields by at least 10 bushels per acre.”
Many of the key ingredients for a higher-yielding corn recipe are already in place, suggests Monsanto’s Michael Edgerton.
“David Hula’s results indicate corn yields can…