By Carroll Smith
When corn prices shot up in 2007, farmers across the South were anxious to join the Gold Rush. Corn acres increased from 1,920,000 in 2006 to 4,035,000 in 2007. In November of 2007, we published our first edition of Corn South to assist Southern farmers who were not that familiar with growing corn to get up to speed on topics ranging from hybrid selection to production practices to proper corn head adjustments that improve combine efficiency.
In that same issue, Kevin Harper, a Louisiana inland grain elevator manager, shared his experience with the phenomenal 2007 corn crop. He compared the mind-boggling amount of grain that the elevator took in that year to “eating an elephant.”
“When the harvest was completed, we had handled nearly four million bushels of corn,” Harper says. “We did so by doing our homework prior to the season and working as a team during the busy times. Many nights we left at midnight, only to return at 7 a.m., ready to start all over again. Our bodies were exhausted, and our minds were drained. But somehow we managed to make it through the season with no major arguments, fights and injuries. “2007 – the year we ate the elephant – was an experience that I will never forget,” he adds.
In June of 2008, I attended a seminar hosted by AgVenture Midsouth. The billing was intriguing: “Come Meet the 300-Bushel Experts At AgVenture University. Learn How To Increase Yields To Levels You Never Dreamed Of.” One of the points made that day by Chris Kaufman, AgVenture’s general manager, is this: “When you think and act like a 300-bushel corn producer, you become a 300-bushel corn producer.”
At the time, I have to admit that, to me, it sounded unrealistic. But, today, thanks to seed companies’ efforts, high-yielding hybrids are being developed that are suited to the South. As a result, many Southern farmers are now nearing or have reached the 300-bushel-per-acre mark. It may not be happening across all of their corn acres, but the fact is, those extremely high corn yields are occurring on many of their fields.
And, to add to the excitement, corn prices are still high! Needless to say, from all indications of which I am aware, Southern corn producers are still goin’ for the gold as they prepare for the 2013 growing season. Good luck out there as you seek your fortunes in the “gold fields” across the South.If you have comments, send them to Corn South, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. You may also call (800) 888-9784 or contact Lia Guthrie at email@example.com or Carroll Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.