Each year, the Jackson County Extension Service performs standardized corn yield checks across the county for all interested growers. Annually, the farm or grower with the highest yield check earns this award. This year’s recipient for Corn Farmers of the Year is Dietrich Farms.
Dietrich Farms is truly a family business. The matriarch of the family is Charlotte Dietrich. Gordon and Lady along with their son, Christopher and his wife Holly, all live on the farm, where they work and manage the farming operation. Gordon and Christopher handle the day-to-day activities on the farm. Lady is responsible for the bookkeeping. When Holly isn’t teaching 2nd grade at Kate Smith Elementary School, she helps out with the cattle, corn, and peanut harvest. Christopher and Holly have three sons: Jackson, Cale and J.B., and are expecting another son in January. The Dietrich clan also consists of Hannah Dietrich Brock and her husband Mark, who live in Chipley. They have three children: Shelby, Cooper, and Cannon who help out with farm chores when they visit. Nicholas is no longer actively engaged in farming with his family. Since Hurricane Michael, his work in the Solar Industry, installing solar power systems for residential homes, has greatly expanded.
The Dietrichs strive to instill good work ethics with the youngest generation. The three older boys: Jackson and Cooper (10) and Cale (8) have all tried their hand at combining corn and running the grain cart. They help work cattle, pack cotton and level off peanuts. Shelby is the animal lover and the two youngest boys will start Pre-K next August, so they are getting all the tractor-time possible before going to school.
In 2019, the Dietrich Farms grew 310 acres of cotton, 290 acres of peanuts and 220 acres of corn, along 100 head of brood cows. Christopher says, “Corn fits nicely with our three-year rotational plan of peanuts and cotton. Corn may not always be the most profitable crop choice, but the benefits of rotational value are something we factor in.” On average, they grow about 220 acres of corn each year.
At Dietrich Farms, crops are grown on 30-inch row spacing, and all their corn crop is irrigated and planted on single rows. This year’s planting dates were the last week of March and the crop was harvested the first 19 days of August. They grew six varieties on their farm: Dyna-Grow 57VC51, Dyna-Grow 58VC65, DeKalb 6208, DeKalb 6697, Pioneer 1847, and Pioneer 1870. The average corn yield for tests performed across different fields and varieties on Dietrich Farms in 2019 was 256 bu./acre. Their official top yield for 2019 was 284.77 bu./acre, achieved with Pioneer 1870. Behind the corn, they have planted oats, which they plan to use for grazing their cattle.
Fertility management is an important factor in a cropping system. They use anhydrous ammonium and they inject liquid nitrogen through the pivot. The Dietrichs use variable rate applications for lime and potash, and also utilize chicken litter to add organic matter and reduce costs. This year they also experimented with high and low plant populations of 34,000 and 38,000 plants, trying to gauge their farm’s yield potential at the different rates. This year, the Dietrichs have conducted their own field tests by comparing the same variety with and without an insecticide application to see how the yields compared. The Dietrichs feel that rotation, irrigation, and conservation tillage are key factors to any success they have achieved. They utilize the technology offered by soil moisture sensors placed in key areas of the field, especially with the corn crop to obtain optimum irrigating practices.
Dietrich Farms would like to give special thanks to Adam Scarborough, Helena Chemical, and Ronald Barber, Campbellton Farm Service, for their assistance with all their seed, fertilizer and chemical needs. Adam provides input on varieties and scouting for pests and disease, and all their fertilizer comes from Barber Fertilizer. They also use Mr. Barber’s moisture tester and scales during the yield checks.
The Corn Farmer of the Year Award is based on standardized yield checks provided by the Jackson County Extension Service.