Like a lot of yield-contest participants, Bob Little goes slowly when he plants contest corn, which is planted on his best river-bottom sandy loam soils following soybeans, and harvested early.

“I get my best dry yield from corn that is harvested at 21% or a little bit higher,” says Little, a Pioneer seed dealer. “The higher yield is more than enough to pay for the drying and shrink.”

Little chooses a hybrid that stands up to higher populations. He planted this year’s winner, Pioneer P1360HR, at a 41,000 population, about 2,000 higher than normal. Yield-contest plots receive 280-310 pounds of nitrogen per acre, about 80 pounds more than normal. About 45 pounds is applied with a preemerge herbicide, followed by 24 pounds as a starter, which includes 64 pounds of phosphorus and 18 pounds of potassium. Anhydrous ammonia, which he prefers for river-bottom ground, is sidedressed at 200-240 units per acre at V4.

He maintains phosphorus, potassium and soil-pH levels with periodic off-season broadcast applications as dictated by soil tests.

Except for postemergence weed control, Little’s final management tweaks are limited to two fungicide applications mixed with a biological to reduce crop stress. The first application goes on 10 days before tasseling, followed by an application a week to 10 days after tasseling.

Little credits the contest with underscoring the importance of precise seed placement, high plant populations, excellent weed control, fungicides and early harvest for boosting yields across his farm.