By Matt Reese
In 1952, Dave Herring from Wyandot County won a yield contest with his 127-bushel corn grown as an FFA project. He was excited about his success, but he didn’t know at the time he was starting a family tradition of yield contest success on the farm’s rich soils.
Now Dave’s sons, Jim and Phil, have taken over the rolling farm on the banks of the Sandusky River just south of Upper Sandusky and, after nearly 60 years, picked back up on the family tradition started by their father. In the first year they’ve entered the contest, Jim and Phil were first and second in Ohio, respectively, and second and third in the nation in the “AA Non-Irrigated Class” of the National Corn Growers 2011 Corn Yield Contest. Jim’s contest entry with DEKALB 113-day DKC63-84 finished at 305.7750 bushels and Phil’s 110-day Shur Grow SG-720 produced 291.7814 bushels.
Herring Farms has been in the family since the late 1840s and has long been an ideal site for growing corn.
“People drive down our road to look at the corn every year,” Phil said. “It’s on good river bottom ground with a gravel base that we can always plant early, so this corn usually looks really good.”
The brothers really did not do anything different for the contest that they did across the whole farm and, farm wide, 2011 yields were among the best they’d ever had.
“The first check was actually 314 bushels,” Jim said. “We’ve had some pretty strong yields from this farm in the past. We had other yields over 300 from other fields this year.”
The state-winning field was in soybeans the previous year and was among the first planted in the soggy spring of 2011.
“We planted on May 10. It had been fall chisel plowed and we did one pass with the field cultivator with a rolling basket in the spring,” Jim said. “We used 225 pounds of pre-plant anhydrous with N-Serve and no sidedress.”
And that was about it. The Herrings controlled the weeds and let the steady rains water their crops.
“We never lacked for rain this year,” Phil said. “We maybe had a little too much at times. There were some drowned out spots in the fields. We were concerned about pollination because it was so hot, but the moisture was there and the timing must have been right.”
The winning fields, like the rest of the farm, have been in a corn-soybean rotation for many years. No fungicides or insecticides were used.
“The only thing we would’ve done differently was maybe bump up the plant population a little,” Jim said. “The winning corn was harvested in late October and was around 21% moisture. The contest entry took some extra time during harvest because we had to weigh everything, but all we really had to do was lay out the blocks and harvest. Other than that, Heritage Co-op took over.”
It also has been noted in the Herring family that Jim, the younger of the brothers, bested his elder sibling.
“We go back and forth a little bit but it is pretty much a team effort,” Jim said. “We thought we had a chance to do well in the state this year, but we were really surprised about doing so well in the nation.”
And, it seems, the sibling rivalry has rekindled a family tradition of award winning yields. For more, see the mid-January issue of Ohio’s Country Journal.