What is in this article?:
The Masseys have moved away from tilling at a 45-degree angle to the row, because it can create inconsistencies in the soil profile, which can impact planting efficiency and seeding rates the following spring.
DESPITE A rough start to the season, Ellington Massey and his son, Turner, had one of their best corn yields ever on their Mississippi farms.
The Masseys soil sample every three years to determine potash, lime and phosphate needs for corn. They don’t apply any preplant nitrogen.
“We band about 80 pounds of nitrogen five inches to the side of the row with the planter,” Turner says. “We’re also applying 4 gallons per acre of pop-up fertilizer in the furrow with the seed.”
“We’ve seen a 25-bushel per acre yield increase from the at-planting nitrogen applications,” Ellington says.
The Masseys got all their intended corn acres planted in 2013, Turner says, but spring rains stretched the planting season much longer than they preferred, and they didn’t finish until May 16.
“We had never planted corn that late,” Ellington says, “but it looks like it will be the best corn crop we’ve ever had.”
Each year, Turner consults official variety trial information to help decide which corn hybrids to plant. He tries to match those hybrids to soil and irrigation methods on their farms. “We also have test plots for hybrids on the farm,” Ellington says.
Once they get a stand and corn is 6 inches high, they start getting fertilizer rigs hooked up to apply side-dress fertilizer, and getting their Hi-Boy ready to apply post-emergence herbicide, typically Halex and atrazine. All of their weed control is done postemergence.
Glyphosate-resistant pigweed has been a problem, but mostly on field borders and around wells and light poles in the middle of fields — “wherever there is sunlight hitting the ground, or anywhere where an obstacle prevents the Hi-Boy from getting good coverage,” Turner says.
One weed control benefit for corn is that it’s typically planted during a time of the year when pigweeds are less likely to emerge in large numbers. “But when we have May-planted corn, as we did in 2013, you may have pigweed issues — and we did. But Halex and atrazine wipes them out,” Ellington says.
Though they’ve had earworm infestations, the Masseys, who first started growing corn in 2007, were not too concerned with insects this past season, according to Turner. “From research at Mississippi State University, we know it’s not economical to spray for earworms,” he says.
On refuge corn, corn borers can be a significant problem, and they put out traps in 2013 after they heard the pest was south of the farm and moving north. “Within a 24-hour period, I re-checked the traps and one had 740 moths in it. We immediately got the airplane spraying Besiege.
“We have found over the years that you plant non-Bt corn first — that way, it will get mature before the moth activity really gets heavy,” Ellington says.