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Farmers score in Pioneer Weigh-and-Win in spite of drought

The Pioneer Weigh-and-Win team of 2019 smiling proudly with their awards in their hands and with a winning yield from their lands.

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“It was a fallow land,” says HF Cilliers of Douglas in the Northern Cape Province. Participating for the first time in the Pioneer Weigh-and-Win competition, HF had the highest harvest yield ever. He achieved a yield of 20,871 tons/hectare for maize under irrigation on the two hectares that were entered for the competition. HF planted a Monsanto cultivar – DKC 65-60BR.

He is of the opinion that the outstanding yield can be ascribed to the fact that the soil had an opportunity to ‘rest’ after it had been used for potato production the previous season. He also planted barley as green manuring crop.

HF annually enters for the local school competition and this year decided also to enter for the national competition to find out if the Douglas mealies under irrigation could perhaps come up to scratch in the national competition. He says the land did get a little more love and fertiliser that the rest, but he believes the main reason for the excellent yield was the fact that it was a fallow land, combined with the green manuring crop.

Quality water and efficient filtration are the other ingredients of the winning recipe. It was also a test for HF to see what difference the green manuring made – he will probably extend this practice in future. On the rest of the farm he harvested an average of 17t/ha.

Christo Cronjé of Vrede was on the heels of HF with 19,632 t/ha, having planted the PANNAR cultivar PAN 3R-724BR.

A number of farmers withdrew because of the drought, which dealt their crops a nasty blow, but even in the West there were extraordinary yields on dryland.

West Region dryland: Danie le Roux of Schweizer-Reneke harvested 11,154 t/ha; in the same area Jozeph du Plessis had a yield of 10,481 t/ha, and Casper Botha of Ventersdorp 9,866 t/ha.

East Region, dryland: Jannie Schoeman of Middelburg planted PAN 4R-511R and harvested a huge 14,731 ton. Jannie says: “We like to plant Pannar and Pioneer. We had rain in the right places at the right time. I believe it is a good thing to enter for competitions such as the harvest championship as it forces you to set goals and then focus on attaining them. Also in the Middelburg area Gareth Allen had yield of 13,929 t/ha, and Rudolph Schoeman 12,868 t/ha, both with Pioneer seed.

Tony Esmeraldo of Corteva Agriscience addressing the audience.

Other dryland areas: In the Central Region Barry van Wyk of Fochville won with 7,990 t/ha; in Kwazulu-Natal Josh Butt of Kamberg, with a yield of 16,266 t/ha, almost equalled the harvests of the irrigation growers; in the Eastern Freestate Hendrik Fourie of Bethlehem harvested 11,426 t/h; and in the water table area around Viljoenskroon Stephen Kruger’s combine took off 7,565 t/ha of the cultivar P2865WBR.

Stephen says he plants Pioneer on a large scale and he is pleased as Punch with the technology contained in the seed. “Managing a unique soil structure is not easy and the last worry you want on your mind is the seed in your planter. With a fixed clay compaction layer of 800 and 1 200 mm under the topsoil, we have to be constantly aware of compaction and fertiliser management becomes imperative”.

“The seed variety performs very well and we are more than satisfied with the service and support we receive from Pioneer. The two hectares which I entered, received no special attention and the yield mirrors the normal production.”

Dr Dirk Strydom of Grain SA announced that a new National Yield Competition will be organised as from next year under the auspices of Grain SA.

In the sunflower section Gerrit Knoetze of Wolmaransstad was crowned the winner with 4,014 t/ha. Andrew Poortier of Marble Hall took second and third place with yields of respectively 2,879 en 2,008 t/ha.

Gerrit says the specific sunflower block performed excellent because the soil had more muscle being a fallow land. He followed his normal cultivation and fertilising program except that planting was late because of late rain. They still planted mealies up to January 18th and only started with sunflower in February. “I feel sorry for myself now not having planted more sunflower because the rain eventually came at exactly the right time.”

The average yield in the dryland soy section was under tremendous pressure because of the drought. The winner in the East Region was Jacques Rossouw of Nigel with 4,907 t/ha. Jacques planted a Brazilian Santa Rosa cultivar, RA4650 RR, and says that the two hectares entered received no special attention at all because he harvested up to 6t/ha in other sections of the same land that was entered for the competition!

Jacques Rossouw of Nigel in his prime soybean land which yielded a winning crop of 4,9 t/ha.

With a farm average of 4,3 tons it is the biggest harvest they ever had and they were waiting for the futures market price to improve to the intended level before selling. Barry van Wyk won in the Central Region with his soybean yield of 4,099 t/ha. Danie le Roux of Schweizer-Reneke won in the Western Region with a yield of 4,464 t/ha, and in Kwazulu-Natal Cobus Botha of Winterton harvested 4,355 t/ha.

Cobus also came first in the section for soybeans under irrigation with a yield of 5,540 t/ha with the cultivar DM 5953 RSF. “It was a difficult season but the cultivars that I plant, are tough! I am also a seed producer for Pioneer. There has been unbelievable progress in seed technology over the past ten years,” says Cobus. Christo Cronjé was second with 5,413 t/ha, and Sarel Haasbroek of Carletonville third with 4,301 t/ha.

However, there is still a challenge facing South African farmers to reach the world record yield of 12,7 t/ha established recently by Randy Dowdy of America.

Grain SA announced at the prize-giving that the National Yield Competition for Grain will be held under their auspices as from next year. The idea is that the various seed companies will arrange their own competitions and the winners will then compete in the national competition.

Dr Dirk Strydom, manager, grain economy and marketing, is presently holding talks with all the seed companies to compile a standard protocol for uniform judging. He also announced that Pioneer, supported by Corteva, would be the main sponsor of the new competition.

Grain SA says: “The importance of competitions of this kind cannot be underrated as it gives growers the opportunity to gain further knowledge and learn more from their fellow-producers. The competition also offers a platform to grain producers to test new technology, production practices and ideas with the aim of maximising their own yield.”

This is what the winning stand of HF Cilliers looks like.

Tony Esmeraldo, business director of the main Pioneer Company, Corteva Agriscience SA, emphasised two of Corteva’s nuclear values:

• Be inquisitive and never stop thinking new thoughts; and

• Build together: You cannot continue on your own; partnerships are very important. That is why Corteva, among others, entered into a partnership with John Deere. With cooperation farmers can enjoy the advantage of the best new technology.

For more information about Pioneer’s winning seed, contact your nearest Pioneer representative on 012-683-5721 (landline) or alternatively send an email message to

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