Harrison Rigdon creates a kind of hypothesis before each corn growing season. He creates a combination of nitrogen, herbicide and fungicide applications that he hopes will result in a winning yield. Rigdon is planting several varieties to see if they provide high yield and excellent corn plant health.
Last year his calculations were correct. Corn from Rigdon placed first in the National Corn Yield Contest in the rainfed strip, minimum, mulch or ridge division yielding 366.8270 bushels per acre. He admits that sometimes the tricks and products he tries don’t always guarantee the desired result, but that’s part of the scientific process. He also hopes the weather favors his Jarrettsville, Maryland acres as well.
“You try different techniques that you can use in the contest to see if it’s something you can apply to all of your acres,” Rigdon said. “Some products work, and some don’t do what they claim.”
In the corn plot, Rigdon said he primarily planted DeKalb corn seed because he hosts the brand’s plot on his farm. He also works closely with his local seed dealer DeKalb. Lodging plots is not common on many farms. Rigdon said the company asks him every year and he complies.
In exchange for accommodation, the 34-year-old farmer can see firsthand how certain seed varieties perform in his soil, he said. Rigdon likes the brand because it offers all seed maturities and has been shown to be strong for overall plant health. His winning yield was with the DKC59-82RIB variety.
“It ended up winning the plot,” Rigdon said. “It’s the best variety of corn I’ve ever had.” It also helped that when he lightly tilled and planted the variety on May 7, the weather was ideal.
Rigdon recalls that two years ago his yields weren’t as good as expected due to low rainfall and extreme heat. But 2021 was different. Rigdon said for most of the growing season, the weather has created heaven for his corn.
“We’ve had just enough rain and heat throughout the season,” he said. “Corn has never been stressed.”
Part of Rigdon’s experiment involved mixing Xyway, an in-furrow fungicide, with corn’s nitrogen starter. He also made applications of Xyway during the V5, V10 and R1 stages of maize.
“It’s one of the biggest things we’ve done that has really paid off,” he said.
The experiment included an application of 30% urea ammonium nitrate liquid fertilizer during burning. He also ruled out nitrogen at V4, V10 and V12. The harvest was also a success. Rigdon said he and his family began harvesting the farm’s 2,500 acres on September 15 and finished on November 15, with enough time to plant the cover crop mix of wheat, rye, oats and radishes. This upcoming harvest season could be a different story.
Rigdon said he buys most of his nitrogen supplies, but doesn’t have the storage space for the amount of product he needs throughout the summer.
“As high as the inputs are, it will take a big harvest to pay those costs,” he said.
In the meantime, Rigdon is looking forward to attending the Commodity Classic in New Orleans. It has competed in the past when it won first place in 2013 and in 2019 when it had 104.4 bushels per acre of soybeans in the Asgrow National Yield Contest.
Rigdon likes to network with other growers and learn about new products he could experiment with in the upcoming growing season.
“We do it to learn and see what works to help us,” he said.