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Nothing special?!

Sam Santini of Stewartsville, N.J., did it again last fall. He topped the National Corn Growers Association yield contest with a Class A nonirrigated yield of 306.49 bushels per acre — one of seven in the country topping the 300-bushel mark.

Wife Chris wasn’t far behind, taking third place in the nonirrigated ridge-till category with a 263-bushel entry. “We farm together, with Sam making final decisions,” she says. Its 2010 winning entry came on 115-day Hubner 5909VT3P corn planted April 28.

But Santini Farms has done better than that. Their best-ever contest corn was a whopping 313 bushels in 2007, with triple-stacked Dekalb 61-66.

This year, Santini expects much of his regular corn to be Genuity SmartStax hybrids. With this year’s high corn and soybean prices, he planned to roll his rotation back from about 80% corn and 20% beans in 2010, to about 50-50.

Key Points

Early-planted full-season corn, fungicide used: 306-plus bu.

Plant populations keep rising with improving hybrids.

New Jersey’s best soil is a major contributing factor.


Santini claims to have done “nothing special” to achieve that NCGA bin-busting entry. He likes a little dry weather early to make the corn root deeper. But June and July may have been a little too dry. “We’d have had a higher yield if the weather would have been better.”

Fungicides are routinely used to control corn and soybean diseases. While he did get Headline on the contest corn, he figured there’d be less chance of disease on the rest of his corn due to the dry weather. But with “good rains in late July and August, we saw some gray leaf spot and likely some yield reduction in some parts of fields.”

Doing ‘nothing special’

Santini plants in 30-inch rows for a 32,000-plants-per-acre population. Every year, he boosts plant populations by about 1,000. “We have better varieties, and you have to have the plants to keep yields high,” he adds.

The contest field has been in continuous corn some 30 years and is conventional tilled, mainly for the NCGA contest. While he constantly experiments with fertilizer rates, underlying soil may be his biggest yield factor.

Santini’s yield-busting field is Washington clay loam, New Jersey’s best. It slopes glently to the southwest for maximum sun.

Stalcup writes from Amarillo, Texas.

300-bushel corn breakdown

Of the seven NCGA corn contest entries topping 300 bushels, six were under irrigation, and they ranged from 312 to 368 bushels an acre. While five nonirrigated entries were within 5 bushels of the mark, only Santini topped it.

Of those entries topping 300 bushels, four were stacked with Herculex1, LibertyLink and Roundup Ready 2 traits. Two carried Herculex Extra, LL and RR2 genetics. Santini’s was the only YieldGuard VT Triple Pro hybrid.

Of all 24 top-placing entries, 12 were Dekalb and 10 were Pioneer. Hubner and Seed Consultants rounded out the group.


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BIG EARS, BIG NUMBERS: “When we were combining, we saw 330 to 340 numbers on the monitor in some spots,” Santini recalls. “It was an exciting day.”

This article published in the April, 2011 edition of AMERICAN AGRICULTURIST.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.