by Larry Parr, Regional Sales Agronomist (WI)
One pass at the start of a crop’s life can easily carry to yield, but can we improve upon a healthy start and capture more yield potential? Making a 2nd pass as a side-dress application when the corn crop is actively growing can give mineralization a boost, cycle more nutrients, and yield more. Our customers have demonstrated this and QLF Agronomy’s organic corn research results have also proven it.
For most growers feeding the plants once with a good dosage of manure, crop rotation, plowing down “green manure” forage cover crop was good enough. Not so many years ago growers had some good corn yields consistently yielding over 100 bushels per acre with this type of management. Today with newer technologies and improved equipment for both planting and weed control, farmers have found another level of production. Also, with the addition of more options for supplemental nutrition and soil biology enhancing products, it is amazing how much more organic corn is yielding than in years past.
QLF Agronomy orchestrated a large-scale organic corn research plot in 2020. At a 3rd party independent location, Agri-Tech Consulting in Whitewater, Wisconsin tested 30 different treatments comparing and combining multiple liquid products from different leading manufactures for both liquid starter in-furrow package and with the addition of those same blends for the 2nd pass at side-dress. A multitude of measurements were taken such as emergence evaluation, early growth development, and ultimately yield.
From this study, we confirmed what our customers have been demonstrating, QLF’s TerraFed in several combinations with other products works extremely well, reliably and consistently producing a crop response and Return On Investment (ROI). From these combinations, the plot averaged 247 bushels with one pass starter treatments and an average yield increase realized from the liquid starter in-furrow was over 20 bushels per acre with an ROI of over $100.00 per acre. One particular starter treatment that sorted its way to the top was the combination of TerraFed at 7 gallons per acre plus a quality biological CX-1 at + 3 gallons per acre.
So even after a great start and proven finish on the first pass, what about a 2nd pass? The two-pass programs achieved another level of production averaging over 267 bushels. The treatment of TerraFed @ 7 GPA + CX-1 @3 GPA applied June 18th boasted a total yield advantage greater than 40 bushels per acre over the control. The crop was harvested on October 29th. Also, the whole plot received a base fertility supplement of 2 tons of Chicken pellets. Clearly with the addition of several TerraFed combination treatments more yield was realized through mineralization and nutrient cycling. The crop accumulated more nutrients early on in its life cycle and carried all the way to yield. QLF Agronomy is committed to multiple-year studies to validate our results with independent third-party research. In 2021 we will repeat the organic corn trial in Whitewater, Wisconsin again.
You should consider adding TerraFed to an in-season side-dress pass to boost your organic corn yields. The 2nd pass in-season clearly worked in our trials. We have seen how applications during a crop’s actively growing phases, basically, V4 and beyond, can trigger these responses and help recover and capture more credits from manure, the soil, and biology. Consult with your local territory representatives with QLF Agronomy for more direction and advice.