A dry end to the wet start of the 2013 growing season left Mike Scholting’s corn-yield contest plot out of the running for awards. For 2014, he plans to return to the same field where he’s planted contest entries for more than 20 years. “In 2014 we have high hopes we will reach 300,” says Scholting.

He’s farmed his silty clay loam contest field for almost 40 years. The Platte River-bottom ground slopes gently away from the river. In a dry spring, he plants the contest plot on the flat lower reaches. “It’s not all that far from the water table, which helps later in the season,” says Scholting.

In wet springs, the plot is planted higher up, for better drainage and a fast start, but with less access to the high water table. The field has been in corn for years – except for the area set aside for the contest the following year, planted soybeans.

In addition to being rotated with soybeans, the contest section of the field gets a boost from multiple nitrogen applications above and beyond his normal program. “In 2013 I upped it to 350-375 pounds per acre,” says Scholting.

That included a fall anhydrous-ammonia application of 240 pounds per acre. At planting, 6 gallons per acre of a 10-34-0 plus zinc and sulfur was applied as a popup, followed by 110-120 pounds of sidedressed nitrogen. He also spring-applied 150-180 pounds of phosphorus. High soil test potassium levels preclude supplemental applications.

Scholting, whose wife Kimberly is a Pioneer dealer, planted Pioneer P1498HR, a non-rootworm hybrid, at 32,000 seeds per acre, about 4,000 seeds higher than normal. A liquid soil insecticide was applied at planting, followed by two late-season fungicide treatments. “Based on what I saw this year, we’ll treat everything with fungicides next year,” he says.