The Specialty Field Corns profile discusses some of the types of special purpose field corn (Zea mays) that are harvested for grain and sold for animal feed, industrial use, or human consumption. These specialty corns have been genetically altered to improve their starch, protein, or oil content, depending on their intended use. They include high-amylose corn, waxy corn, high-lysine corn, high-oil corn and low-phytate corn.
Special purpose corns are usually grown under contract at a price premium. The processor will generally specify both the hybrids to be planted and the number of acres. Specialty corns may also be sold on the open market. There are a number of markets for specialty corns in surrounding states, such as Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.
Corn will do well in all areas of Kentucky, but well-drained soils are essential for good results. No-tillage techniques, pioneered by farmers and researchers in Kentucky, are now so widely used in-state that they dominate the seeding methods for corn. Avoiding droughty soils and following a good crop rotation program is recommended. Standard crop rotations often include corn-soybean or corn-wheat-soybean rotations. Optimum planting dates usually range from the first of April to mid-May in Kentucky. Specialty corns typically have lower stress tolerance and yield potential than standard dent corn. Specialty corn should be seeded between 24,000 and 28,000 seeds per acre depending on productivity of the field. While production practices for specialty field corns are similar to those of standard dent corn, it is important to know the contract requirements before the special purpose corn is grown.