NCGA High-yielder Shares Secrets to Success

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Mature corn stalks

The Drozd family farms in Allegan, Michigan, and produces corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. Jon Drozd started competing in the National Corn Yield Contest in the 1980s and now competes with his sons, Jake and Ryan Drozd.

Drozd Family Grain received two high honors for the 2022 growing season: 

  • State winner — conventional irrigated class with 296 bushels per acre
  • State runner-up — strip-till, minimum-till, mulch-till and ridge-till irrigated class with 302 bushels per acre

We sat down with Jake Drozd to get his insights on producing high-yielding corn over the years. Here are his top tips:  

  1. Start with high-yielding hybrids. Drozd says the weather has to be in your favor, but yield data is key to hybrid selection on their farm. “On any given year since we started the corn yield contest, we pick high-yielding hybrids. Yield is always king,” he says.
  2. Make sure the planter is ready to go prior to planting. “The planter is your first chance to start the season off right. You want it to be ready to go when planting time comes around, so you’re not spending time working on it in the field,” Drozd says.
  3. Attend educational meetings and network with your peers. Agronomic meetings can have repetitive information, but Drozd tries to take away one useful insight from each meeting he attends. “The information doesn’t always come directly from the presenter. I often find value in the questions that others are asking,” he says. Drozd also says talking through ideas with his friends and neighbors is helpful.  
  4. Scout relentlessly. “When it comes to weed control, my best advice is to scout. Scout again, and then keep scouting,” he says. Drozd walks his NCGA contest fields at least once per day and uses multiple modes of action as part of a program approach to weed control.
  5. Don’t wait to spray herbicides. Drozd frequently deals with Johnsongrass and burcucumber and combats these weeds by applying herbicides in early corn growth stages. “If you’re late to spray the corn, you’re going to lose yield right off the bat,” he warns.
  6. Accept and learn from failure. “Contest acres push you a lot harder than the rest of the acres. You’re going to fail at some point. It’s a matter of learning from those failures and making improvements for the next year,” Drozd says.
  7. Call your Pioneer sales representative. Drozd encourages everyone to invite their seed dealer out to the field. “Four eyes are better than two. You’re investing a lot in seed. Make sure the service comes with it,” he says.

Learn more about the National Corn Yield Contest and view the top national and state yields with Pioneer® brand products here: https://www.pioneer.com/us/NCGA.html


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