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Shooting for 300

Jeff Caldwell 04/05/2011 @ 3:00pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

This year, Doug Martin's got a new goal on his central Illinois farm. He's devoting a few fields to testing what he can do to reach the 300-bushel-per-acre mark.

“We will be making the plan for nitrogen, fertilizer, fungicide application, and seeding recommendations to take that first step toward the magical 300-bushel level,” Martin says. “One of the problems that I see with trying to get to that level is that a lot of the practices used are not economical or applicable for a lot of today's larger-scale farms.”

But, a high-technology package can help put that 300-bushel goal within reach, says University of Illinois crop physiologist Fred Below. There are five main components to that system.

“Single production factors cannot guarantee high corn yields, but rather, it is the positive interaction among multiple factors that gives farmers the greatest opportunity to grow 300 bushels an acre,” Below says.

Here are his five factors.

1. Improved soil fertility through well-placed applications of phosphorous.

2. The use of triple-stacked hybrids (including herbicide tolerance as well as corn borer and rootworm resistance).

3. An extra 100 pounds per acre of side-dressed nitrogen.

4. Higher plant populations (up to 4,500 plants per acre), especially in twin-row systems.

5. A foliar fungicide application at flowering “to control leaf disease and to relieve plant stress,” Below says. 

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