South Carolina Corn Comparison Test Plots

The decision making process of a new Growers customer, culminating in comparison test plots designed by the county agent. The test was conducted accurately and properly by R&K Farms and great care was taken to keep the GMS and dry fertilizer corn plot yields completely separate. The customer was pleased with the results of using GMS and its application process

By Boyd Lloyd                              

 It was a cool morning in early March, 2008 when I drove up to the headquarters of R&K Farms located in the small Sumter County community of  Oswego, in eastern South Carolina.   R&K Farms is owned and operated by Richard Wheeler and gets it's name from Richard and his son Kenton .

  Richard Wheeler & combine

Richard and his Farm Manager, John Brown, listened intently as I introduced the Growers Program to them and explained it's advantages compared to using the more expensive dry fertilizers.  They asked questions and were very interested in the Growers Program, Growers Mineral Solutions, Growers Nutritional Additive and the cost per acre.   Later they spent much time reading the literature I had left with them, went to the Growers web site for even more information, spent the next week or so doing extensive research and then had the better part of an hour's phone conversation with Growers R & D Director, Jim Halbeisen.  

A few days later I called Richard to see if they'd had a chance to read the material and what he thought about trying GMS.  He told me what had transpired since my visit and that he found all that I'd told him about Growers seemed to be true.  After several days I visited Richard again and gave him a gallon sample of GMS  and showed him a gallon of the nutritional additive.  He asked if there were any farmers in the area who had used GMS and the Growers Program he could talk to.   I gave him two names and phone numbers, which he later called.   

 Later in March Richard called to place an order for GMS and said he wanted to try it on his corn crop exclusively this year.  

When an agricultural university's representatives came by to visit R & K Farms and were told about GMS and their intentions to use it exclusively on the corn crop, they told Richard he could not possibly grow a good crop of corn with that quantity of GMS per acre and the nutritional additive recommended.  Richard told them he would see.

 The county agent heard about this and requested Richard do a plot test, pitting GMS against the dry fertilizer recommended by the ag university.  Richard agreed, reluctantly, knowing the test would cause him extra expense to purchase the dry fertilizer and have it spread.  The county agent did a random drawing of straws to select the test plots for the GMS and dry fertilizer.  A non-irrigated field was selected and, to assure an accurate test, the same seed variety was used over the entire field  

 The test plots were done in increments of 24 rows because the dry fertilizer spreader truck covered that in one pass.  Since the test plots were randomly selected, on occasion there were single 24 row plots alternating with each fertilizer, and others there were two 24 row (48 rows) plots of one fertilizer side by side.  Both Richard and John took extreme measures to assure the test was done accurately and fairly so the test would show them, R&K Farms, accurate results.  John even rode in the spreader truck with the driver, flagged the various plots for each fertilizer and mapped the field to make sure it was all done properly.

 The quantity of dry fertilizer used, as recommended by the county agent after reviewing the soil samples for that field, amounted to no nitrogen, 60 lbs./ acre of phosphorous and 30 lbs./acre of potash spread over the dry fertilizer plots prior to planting

 Growers recommended using 4 gal. of GMS/acre in the soil in a 2 X 2 placement (2" down and 2" to the side) at the time of planting which is common in Southern (light, sandy) soils.  That would be followed later with a foliar feeding of 4 gal./acre of GMS including 8 ounces/acre of Growers Nutritional Additive.  Since Richard uses a tractor mounted sprayer and to prevent damaging the stalks during spraying, the foliar spraying was done when the corn was around 3 feet tall.

The entire 10 or 12 acre field was planted close to mid April, with a plant population of 24,500 using the "strip till" method.  Around mid May, 90 units/lbs./acre of liquid nitrogen was knifed in over all the plots.  No other fertilization was used.

Early in the crop season, there was a period when the weather was wet and cool, that was followed by normal weather for this area, and then later in the season it was drier than normal with a period of 7 to 9 days of temperatures near 100 degrees.

 Harvest took place during a sudden opportune weather window and no representatives from the ag university or Growers were present.  Regardless, the test was conducted accurately and properly by R&K Farms and great care was taken to keep the GMS and dry fertilizer corn plot yields completely separate.  The plots grown with the GMS recommendations yielded around 110 bu./acre while the dry fertilizer plots yielded between 104 – 105 bu./acre, an average of 5 – 6 bu./acre more using Growers Mineral Solutions.  

 No high calcium lime was spread on any of Richard's farm land this crop season since it was too late to have it spread before planting time, however, Richard agrees with the high calcium lime concept and plans to use it in the upcoming year.  Having used no calcium lime this year was a factor in Growers advising the use of 8 gal./acre of GMS.  Less GMS and nitrogen can be recommended when the soil calcium level is higher.  For this reason, the costs per acre were close to the same for both GMS and the dry fertilizer test plots.  Another time, with adequate calcium, the GMS costs would be lower.

On another note, this year R & K Farms used Growers Mineral Solutions with Growers Nutritional Additive exclusively on his irrigated farm land along with approximately 180 units/lbs./acre of liquid nitrogen knifed into the soil, as in the test plots.  The plant population was 30,000 and the yields ranged anywhere from 150 to 200 bu./acre, averaging overall 185 bu./acre.  Needless to say, Richard was pleased with the results of using GMS and its application process.  Think what his yields would be with improved calcium levels in the soil!


Article in The Growers Solution

newsletter, Late Fall 2008

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