Gary Prescher is a corn yield champion
Brita Moore, email@example.com | agrinews.com
DELAVAN, Minn. — Being an agronomist, Gary Prescher is well-informed about yield-boosting ag product developments.
Over the last few years, he’s incorporated some of the treatments and practices on his farm that he’s learned with the Syngenta agronomy team. In 2016, his work paid off in a big way: he took first place statewide in the National Corn Yield Contest’s AA Non-Irrigated category as a first-time contestant.
His yield? A whopping 288.6 bushels per acre — and he doesn’t want to stop there.
“Next year’s NCGA contest goal is 350 bushels,” Prescher said.
Prescher, a fourth-generation farmer in south central Minnesota, chose the Golden Harvest hybrid G10S30-3220 brand for his contest entry.
“In 2015, I took a look at this product for the first time in trials in southern Minnesota, and it really performed well,” Prescher said. “I talked to neighboring agronomists in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska about the hybrid’s performance, took it to heart, and decided that would be my contest hybrid. One of the other things I liked about it was the addition of Agrisure Viptera to the trait package.”
Prescher noticed that Agrisure Viptera performed well against some difficult-to-control above ground pests that feed on corn plants and grain. He’s also gotten to try some new fungicides from Syngenta that had just begun working their way into use in the northern United States.
“We were really able to see the benefits of working with fungicides early in the growing season and later, at R1 over and above just preventing diseases,” Prescher said. “If I hadn’t used fungicides Quilt Xcel at V5 and Trivapro at R1, I would have lost 20 to 30 bushels from heavy disease pressure due to the excessive rainfall in 2016.”
Prescher pays close attention to timing.
“Fields planted a week earlier than the winning field didn’t do as well because of the cold soil conditions,” Prescher said. “Planting it when the soil is ready, tilling the ground when it’s ready, planting corn at the right depth, slow down when planting, getting crop-safe herbicide application done at the right time, hitting the right growth stages for fungicide applications monitoring rainfall and nitrogen and sulfur movement through the soil profile are all critical to managing the crop during the growing season.”
He took a chance in adjusting the maturity he used from 107-day to 110-day corn. He said that he tries to stay as full-season as possible with a portion of his corn portfolio.
“When I compared the difference this year, it was about 20 bushels more yield (for the 110-day),” Prescher said. “Locally we were able to start growing in April and maximize yield potential for 110-day hybrids.”
Prescher adjusted his fields’ drainage about seven years ago by putting in tile lines. He started grid soil sampling and variable rate fertilizer application, while trying out these new practices. Like many farmers, his biggest challenge in 2016 was rain.
“My yields were actually a little better in 2015 than 2016 overall for me,” he said. “We had good weather in both years, but it was slightly better in 2015. We had 20 inches more rainfall than we normally get in 2016, and that was part of the challenge for a lot of producers, where you have waterlogged soils for an extended period of time.”
To enter the contest, the Winona State earth science graduate had to enter well ahead of harvest. He said the application process was fairly straightforward. It requires answering more than 30 questions and submitting a weigh ticket.
Yield results over certain thresholds must be certified by an independent local supervisor, such as an Extension educator, teacher or ag lender trained to verify results. Prescher will be recognized in the awards ceremony at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio and have his results in the National Corn Yield Competition guide.
Prescher has selected potentially higher yield-producing land for this growing season. There’s no way yet to predict exactly what 2017 will bring, but he’s grateful for his experiences.
“I’m thankful and blessed by my heritage and my family, the farm I live on, the associates I’ve worked with who helped me along the way,” Prescher said.