AGRIBUSINESS: Planting Time, No-Till Corn-On-Corn

Only 23 percent of Iowa’s corn crop is now in the ground, but producers around the state are scrambling to take advantage of friendly weather.

This week farmer Doug Holliday is planting corn just east of Greenfield in southwest Iowa. He’s been racing since Monday to get his crop into the ground, and he’s optimistic about this year.

“The past years that end in ‘4’ were excellent years. Everyone says ‘Plant in the dust and the bins will bust,’ well, we’re planting in the dust right now. Maybe it’s these fields, but, we’ll see.”

Those fields are in the heart of Adair county, and this year Holliday is putting down corn on corn. He says one reason he made that decision is because his field situation.

“We’re in southern Iowa. A majority of our land is HEL (Highly Erodible Land), rolling. We no-till so that we don’t wash our soil [away]. We try to keep our soil where it is: in place. With continuous corn, we’re building more and more organic matter, just like you compost leaves in your yard. You know, how in town [it's done] that way. Look at it the same way out here: as the corn stalks decompose through the years we build organic matter, and the carbon, back into the soil rather than off into the air.”

This year, prospective soybean plantings in Iowa are a record nine point six million acres, up more than three percent from last year. Holliday says, for him, there’s good reason to stick with corn.

“We’re no-tilling corn on corn, of course. Which is a little different than the neighborhood. Most the area is corn-bean rotation. But we’re heavier corn, basically building organic matter. And, we have an ethanol plant that sits 14 miles away that offers excellent bids. And the opportunity to harvest it and go directly there without even having to put it in a bin just saves that one more step in there.”

But with rain in the forecast for Adair county late this week.. Holliday hopes rain holds off, at least through the weekend.

“The corn-on-corn, we need it dry because we’re no-tilling. We’re not doing any tillage, we’re just running a trash whipper and throwing the trash out of the way and planting in that little strip.”

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