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Prevention part of Matt Miles’ approach to growing soybeans

Matt Miles says you wouldn’t send a child out into 30-degree weather without a coat, and he won’t grow soybeans without trying to prevent them from getting sick. That’s one of the points Miles made in his presentation on growing high-yield soybeans at the National Conservation Systems Conference in Baton Rouge.

Miles, who harvested better than 100 bushels per acre in the Arkansas Soybean Association Grow for the Green contest in 2013 and 2014, said he participates in yield trials both in his fields and on a field he provides Pioneer Hi-Bred International for one of its IMPACT (or Intensively Managed Product Advancement, Characterization and Training) trials.

"People ask us to try some of their soybeans, and we'll plant them on 15 or 20 acres and compare them to our standard varieties," he said. "We look at university data and different seed companies' data, but until you put it on your farm you're just looking at information that you're not sure will work in your management style."

Weed control is a major area of concern for Miles, who said his son, Layne, is working toward a master's degree in weed science. "He asked me what he could study that would help us most on the farm, and I told him 'tackling these weeds.'

"I told some farmers in Illinois that if they didn't have pigweed to act like they did," he said. "We started out acting like we had them when we didn't, and now we have some. We take a zero tolerance approach, and if you do that you won't have them or least won't have them like this (pointing to a slide with a sizable Palmer amaranth population)."

Miles plants 170,000 seed per acre on his soybean fields. "We plant them when they tell us not to, when it's too cold," he notes. "So we up our seeding rate so that we can get aboiut 150,000 plants per acre as a final stand."

He applies fungicides on all of his soybeans to keep them healthy up until the time the soybeans begin to mature at season's end. While some growers prefer to wait until disease symptoms appear, Miles favors preventive applications.

"We've adapted the philosphy that if you put them out there you won't get the disease," he said. "There are a lot of little things going on in those soybeans I think the fungicides help with. We're working now with some double fungicides and singles."

Miles displayed a photo of soybeans that were nearly six feet tall that still had a green stem. "These beans were this tall on me (shoulder high), and I'm 6-feet, 4 inches," he said. "I don't think there were two of those stalks that were on the ground. You can start growing some of these beans that are a little higher stature on silt loams.

For more on the Grow for the Green Challenge, visit


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