Information and innovation drive corn yields higher

Steve Millage spends countless hours sifting through data and results from his on-farm ten-acre test plot to continually better corn yields on his farm.  While 2020 may have been a challenging year, both on-and off-farm, Millage reaped the prestigious honor of being named the 2020 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Yield Contest State Winner for Colorado in the no-till non-irrigated category. He attributes his win to careful seed variety selection based on his test plot results and innovative farming practices.

Millage has been submitting entries in the contest since the 1990s.  During those years, he’s won first place twice and second or third place 13 times.  The 2020 winning entry was Dekalb® DKC57-99RIB DG-VT2PRIB, which yielded 85.5 bushels/acre in the no-till, non-irrigated category.  Millage also submitted the second-place entry in the 2020 contest, Dekalb DKC51-20RIB DG-VT2P.  This variety yielded 80 bushels/acre in the no-till, non-irrigated category.

On-farm test plot

“The key to trying to stay on top of varieties is to have a test plot on your ground,” Millage said.  He credits his on-farm test plot for his success throughout the rest of his acres.  He doesn’t plant any varieties that haven’t gone through his test plot the year before.

Millage attributes his farm’s success to Dekalb corn varieties.  In the past ten to 15 years, Dekalb Hybrids have outpaced other seed corn brands on the Millage farm. Dekalb has brought varieties to Northeastern Colorado that perform well on the Millage farm.  The Dekalb DroughtGard® gene has been a real game changer, bringing yield and standability to his test plot varieties.  

Millage found that skip-row planting is beneficial in the often drought-stricken Northeastern Colorado region.  He began this practice of skip row farming (planting two rows, then skipping a row, then planting two more rows, etc.) about ten years ago.  Skip-row planting creates a moisture “sink” for corn roots to draw moisture from during the growing season.

Advanced technologies

Millage began farming in 1975.  By the 1990s, his goal was to raise 40 bushels/acre dryland corn.  Each year, he has worked hard to increase his knowledge of corn growing.  Seed companies such as Dekalb have advanced their hybrids and technologies and his yields have trended higher as well. Now his goal is to raise 100 bushel/acre dryland corn.  To reach his target yields, Millage reviews results from his own test plot and test plots on other farms and yield data from Climate FieldView™.

Millage has received an assortment of prizes throughout the years from his winnings.  In a typical year, Dekalb would send him on an all-expense paid trip to the Commodity Classic, which is annually held each spring.  This event features educational programs, speakers, entertainment and a trade show.  While the Commodity Classic was cancelled this past spring, Millage still walked away with a large banner, a new charcoal barbeque cooker, a box of steak, lobster and shrimp, a bottle of whiskey and a neon Dekalb sign.

Cooperative help

Thom Simpson serves as Millage’s CHS agronomy sales representative (ASR).  He also takes an active role in the on-farm test plot and assists in variety selection.  “It has been a real joy working with Steve over the past 13 years to make his farm successful.  Steve is one of the few growers that calls to schedule a test plot every year,” Simpson said.

For more information on seed varieties, contact Simpson at 970-520-1529 or by email at:

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