When Wisconsin corn growers met recently at the well-attended Corn/Soy Expo, one of the corn celebrities in attendance was Eugene Steiger who was a winner in the 2013 National Corn Growers Association contest with a yield of 315.2 bushels per acre.
Steiger's yield in the AA No-Till/Strip Till category, made his corn crop one of the top yields in a contest, which is divided into six categories.
The contest had a record number of entries this year with 8,827.
The Bloomington farmer's wife Betty even topped her husband, with a yield of 322 bushels per acre on her own entry on conventional non-irrigated corn.
"My wife was in a different division but she still beat me on yield. Everybody gives me crap about that."
Steiger had been entering the contest once in a while during his long farming career and since the 1990s, he's been consistently entering every year. The Grant County farmer said the highest yields he's ever gotten on his Tama silt loam soils come with great teamwork.
He credits his agronomist from Premier Cooperative, Gary Mayne and Winfield Solutions for helping him get the top yields in his contest category.
To get those yields he used DeKalb seed (DKC 6333 RIB) along with a palette of herbicide, root enhancer and fungicide inputs.
Steiger's top crop was planted in 30-inch rows at a population of 42,000-43,000 plants per acre.
In order to enter the contest a corn crop must be planted on a plot that's at least 10 acres in size, he said. His and his wife's entries were on a 40-acre field on a neighboring farm to where he grew up.
Steiger has honed his corn growing skills over the years with applications of micronutrients and the results have shown up in his yields. He earned top NCGA corn yield contest honors in 2010 and 2011.
His skill in growing huge corn crops is matched by his enviable Tama soils — derived from centuries of native prairie growth that now bring forth lots of corn. "And there are no stones," he said.
Winners in the other production categories of the NCGA Corn Yield contest for 2013 included two irrigated crops that had yields far north of 400 bushels to the acre.
They included: A Non-Irrigated — My Lady's Manor, Monkton, MD with 302.2 bushels per acre; AA Non-Irrigated — Kevin Kalb, Dubois, IN, 374.62 bushels per acre; A No Till/Strip Till Non-Irrigated — Craig Hula, Charles City, VA with 332.79; Irrigated — Double SA Farms, Hart, TX with 418.33 bushels per acre; No-Till/Strip Till Irrigated — David Hula, Charles City, VA with 454.98 bushels per acre.
The contest provides individual growers like Steiger and his wife a chance to test their skills against other corn growers, but it also advances farming techniques, NCGA officials say.
The techniques and practices these contest winners develop provide the basis for widely used advances that help farmers across the country excel in a variety of situations as they strive for higher and higher yields.
Even in the tough drought year of 2012, Eugene and Betty Steiger had some of the top yields entered in the contest.
There were a record 1,800 people who attended the Corn/Soy Expo in Wisconsin Dells, Feb. 6-7.