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Record: Virginia produces world's biggest corn harvest

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Virginia,Food and Drink,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Agriculture

Updated December 30:

Virginia, long known as tobacco country, has a new title: Corn king.

A farmer from near Richmond broke the 12-year-old Iowa record of 442 bushels of corn per acre with 454 bushels, nearly three times the average of 160 bushels nationally. It was declared the world record by the National Corn Growers Association.

“That kind of gets your heart,” said Charles City grain farmer David Hula. “When you think of growing corn you sure don’t think of Virginia,” he added.

In a video about his new world record, Hula described how his combine yield calculator once hit 500 bushels per acre before averaging out at 454.

Even more shocking than his production is that it was done with special organic soil treatments to the farm that used to house a sand and gravel mine.

“We strive to produce high yields,” Hula said in a statement to Secrets. “As we’ve been cropping some ground at Curles Neck farms, we’ve tapped into some areas of the land that are more productive. Through the application of some products, we’ve been able to unleash that potential,”

He credited soil enhancing products from the firm Biovante.

A spokesman for the firm originally told Secrets that the whole process was done organically. “This is a yield with historic implications that was grown using CERTIFIED ORGANIC seed, soil and foliar treatments,” he emailed.

But since the story ran, experts have indicated that Hula used modified seed--technically not organic. A blog post on the National Corn Grower’s Association site said, “The Biovante soil treatment Hula used may qualify as an organic treatment, but none of his other practices would qualify as organic. Like the vast majority of corn growers, he planted corn hybrids that contain biotechnology, used synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. Organic production practices would not allow the use of any one of these tools.

Still, Biovant’s agronomist Phillip Davis said, “We couldn’t be more excited about what David has done here. This is a big day for him, but also a big day for the agricultural world. As growers look to increase yields, the lessons that were learned here can help everyone. You have to start with the soil in mind, and know that it is the most valuable thing on your farm. Your plant can feed the world, but your soil is what feeds your plant.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.