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NCGA Highest Yield Winner: Six tips for 2017 growing season

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With spring planting season nearly here, we caught up with one of the 2016 NCGA Highest Yield winners to find out his tips and tricks for a successful growing season.

Planting DEKALB seeds, Heath Cutrell of Chesapeake, Virginia, took home the 2016 first place in the A. Non-Irrigated division with 347.2323 bushels per acre. Cutrell’s feat is quite remarkable considering his farm went through hurricane season right at harvest.

“There is no telling what the yield could have possibly been beyond that because obviously we didn’t get every single grain … where if the corn had been standing, we would have been able to get all grain in the combine,” Cutrell said. “I probably got 99 percent of it, but there’s that one percent that I didn’t get to take credit for.”

NCGA Hightest Yield A Non-Irrigated Winner: Heath Cutrell, Chesapeake, Virginia (347.2323 bpa)

The 42-year-old, fourth generation farmer, hasn’t always been cultivating the land. After working as long as he could on his family’s small operation, Cutrell started his own trucking company. He came back to the farming profession only 15 years ago, buying his first tractor.

Today, Cutrell farms nearly 4,000 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans.

“I’ve learned as I took year by year, step by step … learning from all my mistakes,” Cutrell said.

Here are six key items the 2016 NCGA Highest Yield Winner suggests for a successful growing season:

  1. Know your land. Know what kind of land you have.
  2. Know what kind of corn variety to use on what type of land.
  3. Have a great fertility plan in place.
  4. Be tight with your seed, chemical, and fertilizer dealerships. If you have a great realtionship with them, they will work with you and make sure you are successful. If you are successful, they are successful obviously.
  5. Make sure you have a good drainage practice. Make sure you have good water run off or are able to collect water.
  6. Practice walking your fields every 3 to 5 days to try to stay ahead of pests problems, such as bugs, worms, fungus.

His advice for young growers starting out?

“Be very cautious on spending. The commodities are in a terrible spot right now,” Cutrell said. “Make sure every dollar is accounted for, try not to trip, and make no mistakes.”

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