Corn School: Knowing vs Hoping — Randy Dowdy’s Principles for Growing Record Yields

There are many aspects of farming that are beyond a farmer’s control (weather, markets…), but there are also variables that can be managed better than they have been in the past, according to the Georgia farmer who has set world corn and soybean yield records.

“We make big yields and we blame the weather. We make poor yields and we blame the weather. It’s not all the weather’s fault. There are some things that are in our control,” says Randy Dowdy in the interview below.

The first-generation farmer from Brooks County, Georgia, stressed the importance of “knowing versus hoping” wherever possible in growing a crop while speaking to growers in Western Canada as part of TechTour Live earlier this month.

Randy Dowdy

“I’m a guy that likes to know,” says Dowdy. “I don’t want to be the limiting factor, and I don’t want things that are in my control to be the limiting factors.”

Nutrient availability is one of those potentially limiting factors that farmers can control. Dowdy explains ‘knowing’ that you’re maximizing a crop’s yield potential requires data collection throughout the growing season, starting with soil tests and then regular tissue tests based on Growing Degree Units (GDUs) or another plant growth stage metric, not just the date on the calendar.

“We have to have data to make decisions,” he says, noting this information can then be used to duplicate and improve the process — his goal for 2017.

“Our next goals are to duplicate what we’ve done and maybe take it higher. We’ve seen higher yields on the yields maps…we’re trying to make it where every acre makes those big yields. That’s what we’re after,” says Dowdy.

Dowdy and Kelvin Heppner discussed the principles he followed to grow 521 bu/ac corn and 171 bu/ac soybeans, why it’s important to know what it takes to grow each bushel, and how these concepts apply to other crops as much as they do to corn:

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