Renewable Farming

Ag magazine editors describe how David Hula grew 616-bu. corn in 2019

The swarm of farm editors writing about David Hula’s 616.195-bu. corn last season all point to one critical ingredient for exceptional yield: Intensive, all-season management which knits together dozens of synergistic yield-builders.

Successful Farming’s Bill Spiegel captures that essence in a couple of Dave Hula’s quotes: “It takes attention to detail, forethought and resolve. It takes a team of folks and God’s favor.”

January 7, 2020 — This collection of reports offers you links to several articles and videos showing many of Hula’s production techniques. 

We’ll emphasize just one yield enhancer of many: Hula keeps his 10-acre contest corn developing rapidly, full-season, with foliar feeding based on tissue tests taken every Monday morning. Altogether, he makes nine passes across the field from early fertility application with strip-tilling through harvest.

For almost 10 years we’ve emphasized accurately prescribed foliars as a high-return management tool. We manufacture and market WakeUP to make all foliars more potent. We consider WakeUP the premium surfactant / penetrant / mobilizer to amplify yield benefits of foliar or in-furrow trace elements, NPK and biologicals. (There — that’s our only commercial embedded in this story.)

Well, almost. We didn’t see any of the print articles discussing biological aspects of Hula’s fertility program, such as using microorganisms to speed residue breakdown. For years we’ve urged capturing residue more completely with biological bacteria and fungi which speed breakdown of cellulose and lignin.

1. Here’s a link to which Successful Farming analysis posted January 6. Bill Spiegel details Dave Hula’s advance planning and drawing on many years of raising high-yield corn. Points you’ll see in Bill’s article:

1. Precision application of starter fertilizer.

2. Precise seed placement and depth for uniform emergence — pulling a JD 1770NT planter just 3 to 4 miles per hour for “picket fence” stands. He wants all seeds to emerge the same day. If there’s one “most important” tool, it’s the planter, says Hula.

3. Soil sampling in 1-acre grids after soybean harvest, then applying dry fertilizer with a variable-rate SoilWarrior strip-till implement in a 7-inch band.

4. Choosing Pioneer P1197, a 112-day hybrid, for his contest plot because he “understands it well” and knows it pollinates like a 109-day hybrid, offering three extra kernel development and fill days.

5. Dave’s database from years of experience with tissue testing and foliar nutrients keep high levels of nutrition flowing. Corn has no hidden hunger anytime in the season.

In 2019, a near-ideal season offered a substantial edge which maximized the yield effect of all the management methods. Charles City County, Virginia has an extended corn-growing season, averaging 45 inches of rain and an average first frost date of late October. Also, Hula can turn on pivot irrigation for his contest plots. The soil is a sandy loam with rapid rainfall infiltration following years of no-till or minimum tillage.


One version of the SoilWarrior strip-till row unit

2. A news release from Environmental Tillage Systems, maker of the SoilWarrior strip-till implement, stresses Hula’s deep fertilizer placement beneath the row as a major yield factor. Some of our Midwest clients use similar strip-till units and placement of fertilizer under the rows. One of our WakeUP clients here in Iowa follows the strip-till and fertility injection pass on 30-inch centers — done in the fall when possible — with a twin-row planter that straddles the deep band of fertilizer.  

3. Progressive Farmer’s senior crops editor Dan Miller has covered Dave Hula’s experience for many years. We’re checking in with him to see his analysis of the new 616-bu. yield record. Meanwhile, one of the most detailed summaries of Hula’s management is still available on the DTN/Progressive Farmer site at this link.

4. Farm Journal / Ag Web offered a brief summary by Tyne Morgan dated Dec. 17, 2019 on Hula’s new corn yield record at this link. Main point: Hula says corn genetics in the bag now could hold the potential for yields of 800 to 850 bu. per acre. Incidentally, field research shows that non-GMO hybrids often outyield their traited counterparts which have the same genetic background. Introducing “resistant” traits doesn’t improve inherent yield; it offers weed and insect protection alternatives.

5. A search of the No-Till Farmer website at this link shows an extensive history of coverage on Hula’s progress. It’s worth browsing the “old” articles to see how his management techniques have changed over the past several years.

6. For a more personal video view of Dave Hula, several firms have posted YouTube videos which are getting thousands of views. This link takes you to such a YouTube search; so you can browse down the current list of videos. 

Dave uses several biological products from Genesis Ag including a seed treatment and foliars. Here’s a link to the Genesis Ag video. It’s a couple of years old but still relevant, as it’s one of the references he makes to soil health and soil tilth along with rich biological life.



Soil Warrior strip till implement following dry fertilizer hopper