Award-Winning Corn Grower Shares His Tips and Tricks


Just in time for spring planting, Cutrell, and his agronomist Fenton Eure from Nutrien Ag Solutions, joined Mike Howell on episode two of the new season of The Dirt PodKast.

Cutrell farms about 5,000 acres in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina. He won last year’s NCGA National Corn Yield Contest with a yield of 394 bu/a. When asked how he achieved such a yield in dry land corn, he said that luck definitely played a factor, but credits some of his success to ESN Smart Nitrogen. “Since 2015 I’ve been playing with any kind of nutrients. Anything that we could think to put on it” Cutrell said. “But to be honest with you, one of the very biggest things that we believe in, and use, is ESN. We started using that as soon as they came out with it. We tried it on some wheat years ago, and now we put it on just about every single thing that we put in the ground.”

Starting with a good stand is vital to a successful corn crop. While the normal target population for the area Cutrell farms is about 32,000, Eure said that in Cutrell’s contest fields, they were pushing that up. In fact, Cutrell has been at about 38,000 on every acre of his farm since about 2018.

Eure said, “Where he planted was probably the best seed bed that I’ve ever seen. Stands were unbelievable. I think every plant came up within 48 hours of each other.”

To get things coming up that uniform, Cutrell credits a variety of his practices, including his tillage. “We’ll start with obviously waiting for a little bit of dry ground and we’ll do deep tillage with rippers and rip the hard pan up. We’ll come back with a few pieces of tillage equipment, and we’ll end up coming final with a field cultivator and a roller over the top just to kind of firm the ground before we plant,” said Cutrell. “I know the seed bed is right when I walk across the field and I feel like I’m sinking down to my ankles.”  

From tillage to nutrient management, Cutrell and Eure discussed nearly every step and the methodology behind the decisions that resulted in Cutrell’s 2022 record-breaking yield. Hear all of this and more on season two, episode two of The Dirt PodKast.


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