Not many farmers would be disappointed to harvest 117-bu./acre soybeans, but Kip Cullers, K & K Farms, Joplin, MO, isn't your average soybean grower. Last year, Cullers established a world record for soybean production with an irrigated contest plot that averaged 154.7 bu./acre.
“More sunlight and a few more days that weren't so cloudy would definitely have helped to boost yields this year,” says J.P. Dunn, field services manager, Missouri Soybean Association (MSA). “There were just too many cool, cloudy days to allow Kip to beat his record.”
Prior to harvesting his yield contest plot in October, Cullers suspected that another world record might elude him. The field didn't look “nearly as good as it has in the past,” he said at the time, “but it still looks good.”
IN THE END, Cullers' Pioneer-Brand 94B73 soybeans fared well enough to top MSA's 2008 yield contest competition. “Kip is the winner of the irrigated category, with a 117-bu./acre soybean yield,” confirms Dunn. “He didn't beat his world record this year, but he had a very good farm average, including a 160-acre field that yielded 105 bu./acre.”
Like the rest of Missouri, K & K Farms experienced a wet, cold spring and had “issues with chilling injury that we wouldn't encounter in a normal year,” explains Cullers. “We ended up planting our soybeans about two weeks later than normal.”
THE LATER PLANTING date might have set back his contest plot somewhat, but not the farm's overall yields. “Our normal, non-contest beans are a lot better this year than they've ever been,” says Cullers. “I had an 85-acre field make 103 bu./acre and a 160-acre field make 105 bu./acre. They're both pivot-irrigated fields, but those field averages include the dry corners.”
Averaging 103-105-bu./acre soybean yields across 100-plus acre fields is almost as gratifying as setting a world record in a contest plot, says Cullers. “Picking the right varieties for your area is extremely important for [those] yields, but what I've learned is to experiment with my non-contest fields just like I do with my contest field,” he adds. “So, now we're managing our non-contest beans a lot like our contest beans and they're yielding a lot better.”
EVEN WITH AMPLE rainfall, intensive management is the key to attaining 100-bu./acre field averages, points out Dunn. “Kip's seed treatments worked well, and the insecticides and fungicides that he used were an important part of keeping his plants happy,” he says. “We also think that poultry litter may have played a big role in boosting yields.”
Seed treatments, fungicides and insecticides helped maintain strong production for both contest and non-contest fields alike, confirms Cullers. “We treated seed with Trilex 6000 fungicide,” he says. “Since we had a lot of stink bugs this year, we sprayed fields three times with Respect insecticide after scouting. During the year, we also sprayed two applications of Headline fungicide at 6-oz. rates.”
The result — soybeans that yielded more than 100/bu. acre on irrigated fields and nearly 100-bu./acre on non-irrigated fields.