Getting big corn yields never gets old for Jeff Laskowski of Plover, and neither does winning awards for doing it. The Portage County farmer turned in Wisconsin’s top corn yield of 317.65 bushels per acre under irrigation in the 2017 National Corn Growers Association yield competition.
“It’s not my first time. I get spoiled after a while,” Laskowski said. “I think this is the 11th or 12th time I took that category, so I guess it’s, ‘Let’s just be able to keep doing it.’ ”
Laskowski not only took first place, but a second entry of his yielded 311.95 bushels and was not awarded because entrants are allowed only a single win in a category. The official second-place winner was his wife, Barb Laskowski, with 305.32 bushels per acre.
“Oh, yeah, she works here, too,” Laskowski said, laughing.
The Laskowskis raise process vegetables like snap beans, sweet corn and peas along with the grain crop in a two- to three-year rotation. This past summer was very wet in Wisconsin, with downpours of 4 or more inches at a time. Laskowski said his challenge was not so much irrigation as fertilization to put nutrients back on the crops.
“But we did have stretches where we did need water,” he said. “We’re real sandy here on what they call the Central Sands ... You kind of have to have irrigation in this area to make a go of it.”
Rain or shine, Laskowski still manages to put up the big numbers. In 2012 — a drought year in the Midwest — he posted the state’s all-time high corn yield with just more than 327 bushels per acre.
“It’s still holding. Nobody’s beat it yet, so I’m pretty happy about that, too,” he said.
The winning hybrid was from DeKalb DKC60-67RIB, and his non-placing high entry was DKC62-08RIB. His wife’s second-place entry was a Pioneer hybrid, P0157AM. There is no rhyme or reason to what seed he selects for a particular field, he said. He just looks back to what seemed to do well in the past and tries doing something similar.
Beyond those basics, Laskowski doesn’t like to try telling others how to raise corn.
“What works for me possibly (might) work for somebody else, but I hate to tell someone to do something and it doesn’t work, and then it makes you look bad,” he said. “I kind of do my own thing and do what makes me happy.”
He said he’s not even sure what he is going to get from his fields himself, because entries have to be made mid-summer, “so it isn’t just wait until you’re combining and say, ‘Hey, that corn’s good.’ You’ve got to have this all done in advance.”
Laskowski said he’ll keep doing what he’s doing with the hope of winning the yield competition again.
“That’s kind of my goal,” he said. “It’s what I live for. I mean, I live and think farming. Some days I wish I didn’t have that in me, but most days I’m glad I do.”