In Charles City, Va., David Hula is proving no-till corn can compete just as well as conventional corn. The previous corn yield world record holder — which he achieved in the National Corn Grower’s Association’s 2013 corn yield contest with 454 bushels per acre — has been steadily hitting corn yields above 300 bushels for years.

At the 2015 National No-Tillage Conference last month, Hula shared some of his high-yielding corn secrets. Here’s a brief overview of what Hula calls his “Farmer’s Hand to Success.”

1. Thumbs Up — Attitude

The first digit on the hand — a thumbs up — serves as a reminder for keeping a positive attitude, a success tip he heard from Iowa corn-yield record holder Francis Childs. While Hula didn’t agree with Childs’ thinking at the time, he’s now taken the message to mean be willing to change or try something new, and keep an open mind.

2. Index Finger — Things You Have Control Over

“This is the finger my mom pointed to me when I was doing something wrong,” Hula says. “It’s also the finger that you use to specifically point to what you either had control over and did correctly, or if you did something incorrectly.”

There are three areas no-tillers have control over, he says: soil, fertility and pest management.

3. Middle Finger — Mechanical

The middle finger represents the mechanical component to an operation, Hula says, adding that after the corn planter has gone through the field, a huge percent of that corn yield has been determined, “because you can’t fix any of those problems.”

“Make sure you get that even emergence, get some nutrients out there, and if you can get that picket-row fence stand, that’s even better,” Hula says.

4. Ring Finger — Relationship with Corn Variety

“Picking the right corn variety is like finding your spouse,” Hula says. “It is emotionally driven, and if done right can be rewarding. If done wrong, it can be very costly.”

He adds that once the planter leaves the field it can’t be fixed, so if a no-tiller picked the wrong hybrid, it’s over.

5. Pinky Finger — Management

It may be little, but it’s vital to success, Hula says.

“I’m task oriented. I develop a plan, I execute it the best I can and I’m going to adjust it — and then, at the end of the year, we evaluate it. We try to analyze the data as well as we can to improve for next year.”

Are you trying anything new with your no-tilled corn this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below or send me an email at