Raising 300-Bushel Corn in Loess Hills

We’re located here in the Loess Hills of Council Bluffs Iowa. We have about 1200 acres of corn and soybeans and we feed cattle. This year we’re about 70 percent in corn and 30 percent in soybeans.

Our goal this year is to raise 300-bushel corn or better. We've accomplished it in places, but this year we want to get a 300-bushel average. Over the years, our corn yield has been rising through our management practices. Since we've been using the Maximum Profit System that AgVenture’s been having us go through, it's been steadily increasing. It’s because we've just been changing our operation all the time with little improvements. Even the little things make all the difference.

We’ve been applying some of the same practices to our soybeans, too. Soybeans are kind of a funny thing. With soybeans, if you have them on grounds that you haven't had soybeans on for four or five years, you can really do a lot more with them than on rotated ground. Beans are one of those things that seems like you can pretty consistently get 60 or 75 bushel on the rotated ground if you work and work and work at it. But with corn, it seems like you can get a lot better yields, pretty consistently over 200, with a lot easier practices.

We're doing a lot of corn on corn on my operation. We’re finding out that we can do a lot even after the harvest to help our cattle herd. We have a cow/calf operation that's all in a hoop beef system, so we don't tie up ground with pasture. The cows stay in the building, but then you have the manure that goes back on the ground to improve the soil. And after we harvest the grain, we use corn powder from corn stocks to feed and bed the cattle. We currently have 50 head of cattle, but we’re in the process of expanding to have 180 before the end of the year. We’ll have 360 total with calves once we get rolling.

This year my second big goal is trying to get the boys involved. For my one son, we’re trying to get him started in the farm. For my oldest son, this will be his second year farming already. He graduated in 2012, and he's been helping since forever. And then my middle son just graduated from Iowa State. He's pretty eager to get going.

I do have a daughter, too — she is 12. She really enjoys watching the livestock and going out and riding the machinery. We don't know if she has an interest in farming yet, but time will tell I guess. Her mom is an X-ray technologist, and she always said that she would never marry a farmer… but then she did. And it’s funny, but now my oldest son is engaged, and his fiancée said the same thing. She thought she would never marry a farmer. We have to eat those words sometimes.