Will Curtis’ distinctive strategy to corn locations him in Alabama’s prime tier of corn yielders. Farm Press lately visited with him to be taught extra about his high-intensity system. He is laid again and straightforward to speak to, however we needed to catch him earlier than the turkey hunters confirmed up.
Curtis, 41, just isn’t a massive row-crop farmer, however he’s diversified in different methods. He does not do ‘contest’ plots for corn or handle particular sections in fields for simply excessive yields. Every part he does, he does for a stable return on the funding.
In mid-March simply outdoors Troy in south-central half of the state, Curtis was mid-way by planting what can be 600 acres of corn this 12 months; the second 12 months the fields can be in corn. Utilizing expertise, he is a one-man present who shoots for a 300-bushel common throughout the farm, plus a 200-bushel common for the 200 acres he deliberate to double-crop again with corn. You may say he shoots for a 500-bushel season common on a third of his acres.
His predominate soil sort is Orangeburg. Widespread within the Coastal Plain area of the state, it’s a deep, well-drained, loamy-clay soil, however the ranges of sandiness fluctuate throughout a discipline.
He pulls soil samples within the fall on 2.5-acre grids, largely to find out pH wants. He limes as wanted earlier than Christmas. He applies a median of 2.5 tons per acre of rooster litter, which is available from the native poultry business. He makes use of triticale and oats for cowl.
Forward of the corn planter
This 12 months, he is planting DKC65-20, DKC68-69 and DKC 63-57. For his double-crop, he’ll plant DKC 68-88, which is LibertyLink.
He averaged 314.25 bushels per acre with the DKC68-69 selection entered within the 2020 Nationwide Corn Growers Affiliation Yield Contest Strip-till Irrigated class. For a number of years, he is been a prime yielder within the contest. When he does not plant all corn, he sometimes rotates to all soybeans. He hit a 120-bushel common with an Asgrow soybean selection in 2019.
He makes use of 9 middle pivots to irrigate 400 acres. He has 200 acres of dryland. His common discipline measurement is about 35 acres.
Curtis just isn’t positive if he’ll rotate again to soybeans for 2022. He should haul his beans greater than 200 miles to market. He might rotate to peanuts subsequent 12 months, which hasn’t been grown on the land in additional than a decade. Photograph by Brad Haire.
Forward of the corn planter, he applies potash and 40 models of nitrogen. He sometimes strips into the duvet crop, however this 12 months as a result of he was going back-to-back corn, he used a vertical-till. He vegetation on 36-inch twin-rows and his seed inhabitants for irrigated land, relying on selection and soil profile, is between 34,000 and 40,000, or a median of 37,000 seed per acre. For dryland, the inhabitants common is 27,000.
“Normally I just strip straight into the cover crop. I’ve decided to vertical-till a couple of times to incorporate as much of last year’s corn stubble because I’m planting two years of corn in a row. I don’t normally do that. I believe yearly rotation is key to high yields, but this year due to the pricing I decided to do two years of corn.”
He is unsure if he’ll rotate again to soybeans for 2022. With his intense strategy, he hits the yields on beans, too, and bean costs are trending in the suitable course, however he should haul his beans greater than 200 miles to market. He might rotate to peanuts subsequent 12 months, which hasn’t been grown on the land in additional than a decade.
Behind the planter, he applies a quart of atrazine and glyphosate.
He spoon-feeds the corn, fertigating weekly by the middle pivots 28-0-0-5, which supplies him some sulfur, and offers him about 280 models of nitrogen. He applies three-fourths of an inch of water with every fertigation. Between fertigation functions through the warmth of summer season, he additionally applies three-tenths of an inch of straight water, which he does to maintain the vegetation cooler throughout Alabama’s scorching summer season nights, vital, he says, in limiting stress on the vegetation as you go for the best potential yield. He makes use of Valley 365 to remotely schedule and handle irrigation.
The dryland corn will get 175 models of nitrogen from handled urea. He shoots for 200-bushel common on dryland. His area of the state averages 55 inches or higher rainfall annually.
He takes tissue samples each different week to see if the vegetation are lacking something, which they often usually are not, however with the samples he is taking a look at micronutrient ranges, like magnesium, boron and zinc.
At V4 to V6 he is available in with one other atrazine utility with Roundup to wash up weeds. On the V6 stage, he’ll additionally are available with a fungicide utility and micronutrient bundle as wanted, with one other fungicide utility at tassel.
He harvests in July by early August. The place he plans to double-crop, which, once more, is often about 200 acres, he’ll harvest at 26% moisture to get it out of there for the double. He has a 33,000-bushel bin and dries that first crop in 5,000- to 10,000-bushel increments and ships to the poultry vegetation.
Curtis markets the corn to native poultry vegetation and enjoys a good foundation on the worth, negotiating with his capacity to supply constant, high-quality quantity for the corporate. He has 750-bushel gravity wagon. “I haul a lot of corn to the elevator on a tractor and I’ve got good trucking,” he mentioned.
In his area, he mentioned, it’s best to get the double-crop in earlier than Aug. 10. He strip-tills in between the rows of the earlier corn with a price of 27,000 seed per acre. The vegetation develop quickly throughout that half of 12 months and lodging is a concern. He retains his fertigation schedule for the second crop, however applies half the fertility price as for the primary crop.
With the double-crop, he can have two to 4 fungicide functions, relying on climate and illness patterns. “You have to stay ahead of the diseases, the rusts. You have to get out there with a fungicide before the diseases, if you’re talking the first crop but especially for the second one,” he mentioned.
He does not tissue pattern the double-crop. He does the identical weed administration program for the second crop, however the weeds sometimes aren’t a problem. The corn stubble helps with that, together with a fast-growing cover.
He’ll harvest the double-crop in October and often retailer it to market later, watching the market circumstances.
Curtis owns and runs 10,000-acre Piney Woods Looking Lodge outdoors Troy, Ala. Photograph by Brad Haire.
Curtis began his farming operation 10 years in the past, however the Curtis household has farmed the land for generations. His grandfather, W.W. Curtis, was a well-known, progressive farmer within the area, the primary within the county, for instance, to put in middle pivot irrigation, a Reinke system, within the Nineteen Seventies.
On that mid-March day, Curtis’ mom, Diane, was getting the lodge cleaned up and prepared for the turkey hunters who have been exhibiting up in a few hours for a weekend hunt. Curtis owns and runs 10,000-acre Piney Woods Looking Lodge outdoors Troy, the place he offers largemouth bass fishing and deer and turkey hunts. His dad, Dr. Invoice Curtis, was there, too. He retired a number of a long time in the past as an Alabama Extension district coordinator. Curtis additionally manages the timber on the land, runs about 350 mama cows and works a actual property enterprise. He is diversified. He is married to Kellie, who’s a hospital administrator.
Atypical climate the primary of April introduced frost circumstances to the area. His oldest corn on the time was round V3. He did not but know the consequences the frost would have on the crop, however felt it could be okay, as a result of the corn’s rising level hadn’t reached floor, but.