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Corn sets FIRST record in dry year

In a year dominated by headlines of drought, some fields were setting records.

The Farmer’s Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) corn sites saw two plots post more than 300 bushels to the acre in 2023, led by the site in Postville, Iowa, finishing with a 314.4 bushel per acre average — the highest ever seen in a FIRST yield trial.

The site in Thomson, Illinois, was the other high yielder with an average of 305 bu./acre and is the second-highest average in FIRST yield tests. This is the 27th year for these trials.

“Pretty much all the corn went into the ground in ideal conditions,” said Jason Beyers, FIRST manager who oversaw both the high-yield fields in northeast Iowa and northwest Illinois. “Soil conditions and weather were extremely favorable. Emergence was phenomenal.”

The overall performance of hybrids throughout the region was strong, Beyers said, with most people getting better-than-expected yields in corn. He said that is a testament to how much genetics have improved.

“They are breeding them better for the extreme conditions we are seeing,” he said.

While Postville took the record, Iowa yields were strong throughout the state. In western Iowa, the test site in Webb finished at 271.1 bushels per acre, leading the region, while Lineville led southern Iowa with a 254.5 bushel average. Of the 38 Iowa sites, 12 finished above 250 bushels per acre and seven finished below 200.

“When I look back at our weather reports, I think some of the locations just caught a decent enough shower right when things started filling,” said Randy Meinsma, manager for the southern Iowa plots. “That’s what saved it. Every farmer I talked to was really surprised at what yields they were seeing.”

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