Irrigation Makes Dramatic Difference in Corn Yields in Eastern NC

This year, we’ve been talking to James Russell Boyd, Washington and Beaufort County, NC farmer about yield differences with irrigation, especially on corn. Well, the numbers are in, and even in an above-average rainfall year, they’re impressive:

“We averaged 158 irrigated, and non-irrigated was 122. The same system in 2011, irrigated was 185 and the average non-irrigated was 155. In 2010 the irrigated was 191 and the non-irrigated was 85.”

Which, with $8.00 corn, calculates out to bigger profits per acre:

“It’s about $600 per acre. Our plan is to install 2 systems on 320 acres this year.”

The land where Boyd plans to install irrigation has been a poor corn yielder in the past:

“We have cotton there right now. We had corn there last year and it averaged about 46 bushels. It was some of the blackland that dried up. We are going to put two systems on that farm, its one of the drier farms that we have that we could irrigate.”

Boyd explains that they’ve irrigated other crops other than corn, but haven’t seen the dramatic difference as in corn:

“We irrigated some wheat but didn’t see a big difference. We have corn planted behind wheat from June that we haven’t harvested yet, but it looks like 120 bushels. We have irrigated it.”

Boyd planted some grain sorghum this year, and thus far is pleased with the crop:

“It looks good right now. It’s based on the corn prices, and if we can pick 70-80 bushels on the land we have, it will be profitable. Its on land that we cannot irrigate.”

Overall, Boyd is pleased with the production year they’ve had:

“We’ve had a good year so far and are ready to get those soybeans out.”

James Russell Boyd, eastern North Carolina farmer. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.