The Yield Challenge is in its eighth season since launching in 2010. Over the years, a lot of Illinois producers have participated in the Challenge and tried a lot of interesting, boundary-pushing growing practices.

Eric Dolbeare, a soybean grower from Nebo, Ill., is participating in the Yield Challenge for his third year. Dolbeare is entering both the 100-bushel Challenge and the Side-by-Side competition. His field was conventionally tilled, but was delayed in planting until May 18 due to wet conditions. He drilled treated seed (complete with fungicide, insecticide and ILeVO®) at a population of 175,000. This was trailed by additional rains that slowed emergence, but good drying conditions eventually provided good growing conditions. His in-season applications of fungicide have been timely. “August rains are the trump card for soybean yields,” said Dolbeare.

His side-by-side trial is comparing additional fertility, since he has been harvesting high yields for both corn and soybeans and removing more nutrients. His plan was to increase the fertility level to the high end of the recommended range vs. a standard recommendation and not just make a heavy fertilizer application. Dolbeare considers being a good steward and following the 4-Rs important.

David Wessel of Chandlerville, Ill., has also been a Yield Challenge participant for three years. This year he will be participating in the 100-bushel Challenge. He planted his soybeans on April 15 using seed treated with fungicide, insecticide and an inoculant. His farm has been in no-till for 30 years, which was initially started by his father. He has varied the population from 100,000 to 140,000 as a trial this year, since there were some standability issues in the higher populations last year.

David has completed two in-season applications, with a third planned very soon. He applies foliar fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide on the high-yield field. “I am a vigilant scout on the contest field. I do my best to scout every 2 days.” David takes photos and notes of any crop changes and compares them to observations in previous years. His other fields are scouted at least once a week (or more) and he follows an integrated pest management guide for follow-up applications, if needed.

Check out Yield Challenge rules, registration and the NEW Double-Crop Soybean Challenge.

The September Yield Challenge newsletter will share more details on harvesting and recording yields.

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About the Author: Mike Scheer