Good soil, plenty of sunshine and proper management
Earlier this month, the National Association of Corn Growers announced that Arndt Farms placed third in Wisconsin in the National Corn Yield Contest with 257.9 bushels per acre. The award came in the contest's irrigated class.
The contest had 8,431 entries from 46 states in six categories, making Arndt Farms' win significant.
David Arndt, who farms with his brothers Bob and Allan, is in charge of the corn operation. Initially, he gave credit for his success to Mother Nature.
"You just plant it early and make sure it has all the right conditions," Arndt declared.
And those conditions would be?
"The right seeds, the right fertility and the conditions we had last summer," Arndt said.
Actually, it's a little more complicated than that.
The way you till in the fall matters.
"You want to make sure that all the crop residue is distributed evenly over the field," Arndt said.
The way you till in the spring matters.
"You want nice loose soil, with not too many fine particles and not too many big particles," Arndt said. "In the fall you're tilling for root growth, and in the spring you're tilling to prepare the soil bed."
The proper and timely application of fertilizers and herbicides matters, and so does the way you put the seed in the ground.
"If you plant everything in a lumpy mess, it's not going to grow," Arndt said. "You want to make sure that everything is up at exactly the same time."
Farmers refer to this as "uniform emergence."
Corn that comes up later gets shaded out.
"It's like a little runt pig," Arndt said. "It's smaller in size, and it never really gets big."
Arndt Farms has done well in the contest before, racking up several first place finishes in the state. But the 257.9 bushels per acre last year is their best yield ever, better even than earlier first-place finishes, Arndt said.
The yield contest has a long list of rules.
Contest fields are selected in July.
"You don't know what that field's going to be like in October," Arndt said.
The field has to be a minimum of 10 acres. It is then cut down to a five-acre patch, and approximately 1.25 acres of it is harvested for the contest.
Two witnesses approved by the corn growers association witness the harvesting and weighing of the corn.
One witness even has to ride along in the combine.
Many variables go into a winning field, and it's impossible to control them all, Arndt said.
Good management matters, he said, but so does Mother Nature.