Farm Progress

Why Pennsylvania soybean growers topped 100-bushel contest yields.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

January 5, 2018

2 Min Read
BEAN TEAM: Eric and Cliff Charles, of Charles Farms in Lancaster, Pa., have their soybean success system down to near-perfection.Charles Farms

The 2017 soybean-growing season proved to be a good one if Pennsylvania’s soybean yield contest was any measure. The average (mean) yield of the state contest entrants was 80.85 bushels per acre, up more than 4 bushels from 2016. That’s a sizable jump for any average, confirms Del Voight, contest coordinator and Penn State senior Extension agent. The average year-to-year increase over 25 years has been 0.4 bushels.

As usual, the sweetest spots for growing top-yielding soybeans were in two south-central region counties. And for the first time, two of those entries topped 100 bushels per acre.

Lebanon County grower Zach Alger weighed in with an entry of 101.5 bushel. But the state’s grand champion yield entry came from Charles Farms of Lancaster, Pa. — 107.17 bushels per acre.  

“Growers in the north cited too little rainfall during pod fill as the major issue impacting yields,” Voight says. While growing conditions and varieties had roles in the general soybean yield climb, new technologies including seed treatments, microbial products and fungicides have had much to do with raising top-end bean yields.

Regional winning practices were…
The top growers in each of the five regions, based on maturity maps, were as follows:

• Charles Farms planted Pioneer P31T77 in 7.5-inch rows following corn. The crop was planted with a drill using no-till techniques on April 20, 2017, at a seeding rate of 192,000 plants per acre. The field was harvested on Sept. 26, 2017 at 13.3% moisture. The Charles family used Pioneer Premium seed treatment, Priaxor fungicide for pest management, and Gly Star K-Plus and FirstRate for herbicides.

• Adams County’s Jay Arentz of Littlestown won top yield honors in the central region with 92.24 bushels per acre. He planted TA Seeds 2849 RR2 STS.

• Bucks County’s John Frederick of New Hope was the top producer in the southeast region. He planted HiSoy 39A22, which yielded 83.55 bushels an acre.

• Lycoming County’s Scott Snyder of Montoursville won top honors in the northern region. He planted Pioneer 36T86 for a 62.37-bushel yield entry.

• Fayette County’s Mike Reskovac of Waltersburg was the western tier’s top entrant with a 71.08-bushel yield using Diehl Fields DF2.6.

For more grower secrets
Pick up a summary of the 2017 crop production practices by the contest entrants from the Pennsylvania Soybean Board’s booth at the Keystone Farm Show in York, Pa., on Jan. 9-11. Or find a summary analysis of contest entrant practices at

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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