Some differences from 50 years ago

Jim Grover dumps his corn into the pit at A&K Bin #3.

Jim Grover dumps his corn into the pit at A&K Bin #3.

By Marcie Klomp

(Editor’s note: One of my favorite parts of the job is looking at old issues of Lime Springs Herald and finding interesting stories. I ran across the below story from 50 years ago and thought I’d compare it to this year’s crop.)

Archie J. Roberts’ farm, north of Lime springs, was selected by Iowa State University for a corn yield study based on a small test plot, less than one acre. Roberts was able to plant as he saw fit. He plowed down fertilizer, used starter fertilizer and side-dressed with liquid fertilizer. He exceeded all ISU recommendations for fertilizer.

He was aiming at 20,000 stalks per acre, but due to mechanical misadjustment, his planting was only 15,600 stalks per acre. His corn yield ended up being 134-bushels.

Fast forward 50 years from 1963 . . . Dale Ptacek at A&K said today the average acre has about 34,000 stalks, although, in this year of flooding and then drought, the average is 15,000-35,000 depending on the field.

In an average year, farmers can expect a corn crop of 180-200 bushels per acre. Again, this year that number is lower. He is seeing numbers of 80-200 bushels per acre. The main reason for the differences has to do with drainage lines.

Bigger farms, bigger machinery and more technology have been the biggest changes in farming over the past 50 years. Combined, they have brought up the yields.

What hasn’t changed is the worry farmers feel, knowing they are still at the mercy of Mother Nature.


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