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Kentucky Corn: High Yield Checklist

Mike Christensen
By Chad Lee, University of Kentucky February 19, 2014

The margin for corn profits are projected lower in 2014 and producers are more interested in what programs and products will increase yield and profit.

Before we discuss specific programs and products, let us take a moment to define some of the key parameters for getting high yields. There are several things that when done correctly will result in excellent corn yields.

Here is the checklist:

  1. Productive soils (deep, adequate fertility, no compaction, excellent drainage)
  2. Adequate, timely rainfall (or irrigation)
  3. Using good genetics (high yielding, appropriate disease packages)
  4. Rotating corn with other crops
  5. Planting on time (good soil conditions and favorable forecasts may be more important than the calendar)
  6. Using the appropriate populations
  7. Applying adequate N (monitoring for losses, adjusting later if possible)
  8. Capturing 95% sunlight at by about silking (R1 growth stage)
  9. Getting excellent weed control (no trophy-hunting: this usually means removing in-crop weeds before they get to 6 inches in height)
  10. Scouting for diseases and pests (make management decisions based on scouting and forecasts)

Anyone that has heard one of my presentations over the past two years has seen a version of this checklist at the start of the meeting. It is from this framework that we build everything else. As we get closer to planting season (and into the season) we will expand on certain topics in this checklist.

If all of these things are working for you, then high yields will follow.

As producers plan for this coming season, compare your notes with the checklist. Are you doing all these things correctly and at the correct time? Do you have compaction issues or drainage issues? Do have soils more prone to drought? Think about what fields did really well and see how those practices compare to the ones here.

Mike Christensen
By Chad Lee, University of Kentucky February 19, 2014