Corn growers learn latest crop practices, recognize top yields
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
During the 2023 Georgia Corn Short Course, held Jan. 17 in Tifton, corn growers from around the state heard updates on irrigation scheduling, nutrient management the use of drones as sprayers and more, as well as recognized the state’s top producers.
UGA Extension Ag and Irrigation Specialist Wesley Porter detailed factors to consider when scheduling irrigation on corn.
“We won’t reduce our yield if we overirrigate,” Porter said. “We do reduce profitability, because watering is expensive.”
Irrigating using electric-powered pumping can cost about $7 per acre, while diesel-powered irrigation can cost $20 per acre. As a result, conserving water through scheduling to coincide with corn’s growth stages can help ensure that the water is used effectively.
Porter suggested using soil moisture sensors in combination with computer modeling to optimize water use.
Porter, who serves on the American Farm Bureau Federation Issue Advisory Committee for Technology, noted yield reductions for moisture stress at various stages of corn growth. In the vegetative stages up to tasseling, moisture stress can result in yield losses ranging from 10% to 40%. Moisture stress during tasseling and soft dough stages can reduce yields between 20% and 50%, and moisture stress occuring between soft dough and maturity can result in yield loss of 10% to 35%.
Porter said that although Georgia received twice as much rain in 2021 as in 2020, the timing of the rainfall minimized its benefits to the state’s corn crop.
UGA offers a collection of budgeting tools for a variety of crops grown in Georgia at https://agecon.uga.edu/extension/budgets.html.
Adaptive Nutrient Management
In a discussion of plant tissue analyses and adaptive nutrient management in corn, Dr. Henry Sintim pointed out that corn is very sensitive to nutrient imbalances, and symptoms can show up in less than two days.
Sintim, an assistant professor and Extension soil fertility expert, emphasized that soil testing is critical for making decisions on applying nutrients to soil where corn is grown. For a calculator to determine needed nutrient management implementation, click here.
Dr. Simer Virk, a UGA Extension precision agriculture specialist, shared the university’s research into use of drone sprayers, including the scale of possible use, how to organize aerial passes to achieve full coverage, Federal Aviation Administration regulations and how air disturbs from propellers can be turned into an advantage.
“Spray drone is another application tool for crop protection,” Virk said. “They are not here to compete with or replace ground application equipment.”
Drones currently available have limited battery life and payload capabilities, making them better suited for spot spraying relatively small areas, including those at field edges where primary spray equipment cannot reach.
Corn Yield Contest winners
UGA Extension honored the winners of the 2022 Georgia Corn Yield Contest. The winners were:
Conventional irrigated: First place - Jonathan Hitchcock, Washington County (324.7 bushels per acre); second place – James Hitchcock, Washington County (318.2 bushels per acre).
Strip-till irrigated: First place – James Hitchcock, Washington County (322 bushels per acre); second place – Jonathan Hitchcock, Washington County (312 bushels per acre); third place – Ben Jackson, Johnson County (302 bushels per acre).
No-till irrigated: First place - Jonathan Hitchcock, Washington County (319 bushels per acre); Second place - Steven Wischmeier, Bleckley County, (306.5 bushels per acre); third place - Mark Ariail, Franklin County (244 bushels per acre).
Conventional non-irrigated: First place – Wallace Anderson, Gilmer County (273 bushels per acre).