We’re following soybean farmer and repeat Yield Challenge participant Dan Arkels as he works toward winning the 100 Bushel Challenge. When we last checked in, he had just begun aerial applications on his soybeans. That was more than a month ago, so let’s see how his Peru, Ill., test plot is coming along.

Disease in the Yield Challenge plot

Arkels applied two fungicide treatments to his Yield Challenge beans since our last update, and the beans look good. However, a closer look shows that there is disease pressure. And Arkels isn’t the only one—growers throughout Illinois are reporting Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in their fields. Arkels cites fluctuating weather patterns as the main cause for SDS in his fields. “We went almost all of July without rain,” Arkels explains. “Then in August the rain wouldn’t stop.”

Even with the added challenges of weather and disease, Arkels estimates only 1% – 2% of the plants in his Yield Challenge plot are affected. “We’ve been walking the field and checking the Challenge plot,” he says. “The limiting factor is SDS, but it isn’t a major issue, just a plant here and there.”

Wrapping up the growing season

With harvest around the corner, Arkels remains optimistic about his chances of breaking the yield barrier. “I think the beans will be at 100 bushels, give or take 10, depending on SDS.” Soybean diseases such as SDS can cause a devastating blow to growers’ yields, but Arkels says that is why he participates in the Yield Challenge. “I do things differently on my Challenge plot to learn what’s going to really move the beans to the next level.”

Check back for another update on Arkels’ Yield Challenge plot and to see how his experiments pay off. You also can share your crop progress by tweeting us at @ILSoy_News

undefinedArkels shows off a plant from his Challenge plot. This one had 128 pods, but most range 80 – 85 pods per plant.

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