So you want to grow 100 bushel soybeans this year? Either you can get lucky or put together the right team.
Producing 100 bushel soybeans isn’t unheard of and it has been accomplished multiple times, but it takes some planning and the right weather to achieve it. In 2015, Dan Arkels from LaSalle County won ISA’s 100 bushel challenge with a verified yield of 103.9 bushels per acre. There were several other reports in Illinois last year of 100 bushels but they weren’t necessarily verified by an independent party.
Hitting 100 bushel soybean yield is a substantial achievement if the weather cooperates and you plan ahead of time and follow through. Dan Arkels commented last fall that it took a team to break 100 bushels and they met and made a plan and then met every two weeks in the field to judge progress and make tweaks in their plan if needed.
If you wait until June and give it no forethought, the chances are slim you will reach that goal unless you get extremely lucky. And if you formulate a plan but fail to follow through afterwards you will probably be disappointed in the results. What I learned from Arkel’s success last season is that it takes a team and you have to be committed to monitoring and following through for the whole season.
Of course there is no ‘one recipe’ that automatically works. Rather, it is an accumulation of decisions and management practices selected and refined over time for your soil and location that make the difference. Remember, your ultimate goal should be to identify practices that work and are economical and adopt those that can bring up the yield on all your soybean acres.
Hitting 100 bushels is about tallying more bushels, a few here from that practice, a few there from another practice. So if you go after 100 bushels pay attention to these three general areas: variety, best management practices and best technology add-ons. Of course, weather is an important and often deciding element. You have no control over weather, but you can optimize other practices.
Variety: Obviously variety is important. Do your homework and select a variety that is the highest yielding, adapted and has the defensive packages you need for your soils and conditions. Select a maturity group that is at the upper end of your limit because you need time to build yield.
Agronomic Management: Next, make sure you deploy the best agronomic management practices. Strive to optimize soil conditions (pH, fertility and health), plant population and planting date; remove any competition and threats to yield. Protecting a variety’s yield potential is as important as building extra bushels.
Technology Add-Ons: Once you decide on the best management practices, select the technology that can drive up yield. There are many products available, so do your homework before deciding what to apply. You have many options available to increase and protect yield including seed treatments, fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators, foliar nutrients and applying additional nitrogen in-season.
The way to high yield is primarily more pods and seeds per acre. Find a way to achieve by planting on the early side, removing any stresses and tricking the plant to keep more pods and then feed those pods (1 pod with 2.5 seeds is equal to 2 more bushels per acre).
Achieving 100 bushel yield is an accomplishment. That goal is within reach for many producers if the weather cooperates and they are willing to plan ahead, evaluate different technologies and adopt a system of practices and products to achieve that goal. And hopefully growers will adopt many of those technologies into your routine production system.
Agronomist Dr. Daniel Davidson posts blogs on agronomy-related topics. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.