DOWNS, Ill. — The dream of achieving 300-bushel corn yields nears reality through the work being conducted through research plots and on-farm trials.

Beck’s Hybrids began its 300 Challenge in 2009 for farmers, and the company also has ongoing studies at its practical research farms.

A tour of the Beck’s Central Illinois Practical Farm Research during this year’s field day shed some light on management practices that may result in conquering the 300-bushel hurdle.

Multiple hybrids are the focus at the site with control populations of 34,000 seeds per acre and 38,000 seeds per acre in the 300 attempts.

Jonathan Perkins, Southern Illinois PFR director, led the tour and provided a rundown of the 300-bushel recipe implemented this year.

A pre-plant application of 100 pounds of 28 percent nitrogen was utilized, and Factor nitrogen stabilizer “was used to try to protect that nitrogen and keep it there a little bit longer,” he said.

“They also applied pre-plant a quart of BioRed. That’s a product that we’ve been testing at this farmer and other locations, and we’ve seen a benefit from it,” he said.

BioRed is a product with 100-percent organic bacteria and contains a wide variety of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms, including those that are nitrogen-fixing.

“At planting they applied in-furrow five gallons of 7-22-5 pop-up with P Max (for improved phosphorous uptake), along the insecticide, Counter, that they added on top of what we already have from the insecticides in the Escalate yield enhancement system,” Perkins said.

A separate starter fertilizer study at the research site found a $61.11 per acre net return advantage when applying five gallons per acre of 7-22-5 liquid starter fertilizer in-furrow as it produced 12.9 bushels per acre more corn.

“They came in and sidedressed 100 pounds of 28 percent at V4, a 90 pound mixture of 7-22-5 and 0-0-14, which is basically potash that is added with water and boiled to get that 14 pounds that we’re getting from the potash formulation. In addition, 28 percent was applied with a Y-Drop at V14,” Perkins said.

Four ounces of Priaxor fungicide was applied at the V5 followed by a 10-ounce Headline AMP application at R1.

“We’re trying to protect that plant as best that we can with the higher level of insecticide and the fungicide,” Perkins said.

“We haven’t reached that 300-bushel yield level here yet. We’ve been trying, but we haven’t quite got there. We have reached it five different times at our Atlanta, Ind., site.”

In 2009, the company developed the Beck 300 Challenge. Those who participate are required to have a minimum plot of 30 acres and two different hybrids.

Past winners were Aaron Murray, Findlay, Ohio, 276.3 bushels per acre; Larry Holaday, Farmland, Ind., 280 bushels per acre; and Donnie Poore, Albany, Ky., 266 bushels per acre.

“This gives us optimism that it is possible to get that high of a yield across multiple states and multiple geographies,” Perkins said. “But we don’t see anybody from Illinois that’s hit that. We’re in the Corn Belt, and we haven’t hit that 300 bushel yet.

“So we’d like to challenge farmers to enter 300 Bushel Challenge and try it on their farm. They can contact their local seed adviser or dealer that they work with and see about getting it set up on their farmer.”

Despite last year’s drought, the Central Illinois PFR high yield plots averaged 239.5 bushels per acre with many of these same management practices.

Also in regard to the quest for 300-bushel yields, Craig Kirby, Beck’s Hybrids team sales agronomist, noted the new rootworm event, Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade, and its yield boost potential.

“There are a lot of things that are incorporated in attempting to reach 300 bushels. We also have to look at the ability to protect yield,” he said.

“We recognize there are some issues with the current rootworm technology that we have. We have some great products that we’ve been able to utilize for several years now with rootworm protection Bts from different companies. But we know that eventually we’re running into some issues.”

He showed some YieldGard Bt root samples from northern Illinois that indicates rootworm resistance.

“So we’re excited to be looking at some new technologies, and we’ve recognized some problems and are moving away from some of that technology a little bit with some of the other events, including Syngenta Duracade.

“The name is derived from durable and barricade. It’s durable in the fact that it’s the first rootworm Bt that’s designed specifically to be resistant to insect resistance.

“Durability is the whole key to this. It’s going to be in tandem with an existing Bt event, the Agrisure RW trait. There will be two events in there. The other unique thing about it is it has a different mode of action from anything currently on the market.”

The Agrisure Duracade 5122 trait stack will combine the Agrisure Duracade trait with the Agrisure RW trait for an additional mode of action on corn rootworm, Agrisure CB/LL trait for control of corn borer, the Herculex I trait for a second mode of action on corn borer and for broad lepidopteran control and the GA21 trait for glyphosate tolerance.

The Agrisure Duracade 5222 trait stack will include the same traits as the Agrisure Duracade 5122 trait stack plus the Agrisure Viptera trait for breakthrough control of the multi-pest complex.

“It’s pretty exciting. We have a high dose, we also have resistant management built into the product,” Kirby said.

“One thing we often get questions about is if we get a lot of Bts involved will there be a yield drag. There isn’t any in this event. It’s really unmatched corn rootworm control and unmatched consistency across the rootworm insects and unmatched yield potential as we enter this new trait into the hybrids of Beck’s.

“We finally have the kind of level of control that we’ve always expected and experienced with Bt for corn borer and now it’s with rootworm.”

Hybrid seeds containing Agrisure Duracade will be available for the 2014 season.