Foliar feeding and keeping an eye on spider mites proved to be the right formula that propelled Bahr Farms, Inc., to the top yield in the 2012 Wisconsin Soybean Association Yield Contest. Their winning entry in Division 4 was 82.61 bushels per acre.
"For the past six years continuous corn had been the cultural practice on our 66-acre conventional tilled contest plot," says Kevin Bahr, who farms with his brother, Dale, his son, Dan, and father, Donald Sr., near Belmont. "Even though there was only 8.79 inches of rain from April 15 to Sept. 1, the Tama silt loam soil teamed with high organic matter provided an excellent growing package."
Bahr also notes that following recommendations from Bob Rose of Trelay Seeds on selecting a variety and Ryan Temperly, agronomist at Ross Soil Service in Mineral Point, regarding certain inputs, helped boost the overall yield.
The contest plot was planted with Trelay 24RR19 beans in 30-inch rows with a 16-row John Deere 1770 at 140,000 plants per acre. Seed was treated with fungicide, Gaucho insecticide and Excalibur inoculant. The final stand at harvest on Sept. 30 was 125,000 plants per acre.
To control weeds and volunteer corn, 22 ounces of Power Max and 4 ounces of Select were sprayed on June 20. Faced with persistent drought and spider mite infestations, their insecticide treatment was 1 pint of Lorsban per acre, which also included a foliar feeding of Micro.
"Our management formula for growing good soybeans revolves around grid soil sampling every three years and utilizing variable rate fertilizer applications," Bahr says. "After corn harvest, we prefer to leave stalks at a height of 18 to 24 inches until spring. Soybeans go in immediately after planting corn. We use Martin row cleaners to remove residue between old corn rows and like to finish planting beans by May 5."
Maintaining an edge
This was the third consecutive year that Rick DeVoe has placed in the contest. His entry of Pioneer PO93Y43 measured 74.34 bushels per acre at 10.3% moisture and topped Division 3.
"In the past five years, I've averaged 82 bushels per acre on 700 no-till acres," notes the Monroe farmer. "Even with only 9.8 inches of moisture from April to November, I feel fortunate with my overall production total."
DeVoe's 40-acre plot was virgin ground and consisted of Dunbar silt loam soil. His preceding fertility package included 100 pounds of DAP, 250 pounds of potash and 100 pounds of calcium sulfate per acre. Every application trip included micro feed and fungicide.
He planted Pioneer PO93Y43 soybeans treated with Pioneer seed treatment (Gaucho, Trilex and Alliance 120 plus Inc.) to knock out bean leaf beetles. After dropping 155,000 seeds per acre in 30-inch rows, his final stand came in at 144,000 plants per acre.
To control grasses and broadleaf weeds, DeVoe applied Authority First at 3.5 ounces per acre and made a second pass on June 13 with 32 ounces of Roundup and 1.5 quarts of EB mix per acre. A month later to eliminate spider mites, he sprayed 1 pint of Lorsban and 4 ounces of Stratego Yield fungicide per acre along with a foliar feeding that included EB mix and 1 quart of Max-In per acre.
"For optimum results, I plant beans as early as possible and right after corn is finished. I also use a chopping corn head to reduce residue and make sure that fields are free of weeds," DeVoe adds. "Being part of the contest allows me to push the outer limits on soybeans and try different practices every year"
Nearly a perfect growing season
Jerry Koser of Almena claimed first prize in Division 2 with a yield of 73.70 bushels per acre, much higher than the farm's five-year average of 44 bushels per acre. Previous history on the 10.5 acres contest entry showed the silt loam soil was susceptible to white mold and had not been planted to soybeans in seven years.
Pioneer 91M10 GMO food-grade soybeans were planted on May 12 at a rate of 165,000 plants per acre in 30-inch rows with a 12-row John Deere 1770. His seed treatment consisted of a full rate of Optimize and the pre-plant herbicide package included 3 pints of Thunder Master, 1 pint of Glyphosate and 1 pound of AMS per acre.
"My goal is to always plant into warm soil as soon as possible and hope for emergence in five to seven days," Koser says. "I use soybeans as a low input crop and scout at least once a week. During this past growing season fields were free of weeds, insects and diseases the entire year."
On July 16, Koser put on 6 ounces of Clethodim per acre and sprayed 3 ounces of Stratego Yield, 6 ounces of Select for grass and 3 ounces of Proline per acre to suppress white mold. His cost for seed, herbicides and fungicides ran $72.88 per acre.
"As soybean plants matured it was a perfect '10' here except for the end of the season. The area received only 2 inches of moisture from mid-July through harvest," Koser adds." The total farm average on 365 acres was 47 bushels per acre. I was more than pleased to achieve 73.7 bushels with the contest yield."
Looking for an edge
Steve Kloos from Stratford relied on crop scouting to achieve a yield of 61.15 bushels per acre in District 1. His 25-acre field had been in soybeans only once prior to last year. He planted Pioneer 91Y30 in 15-inch rows with a final stand of 165,000 plants per acre.
"To bump up the average of 54 bushels per acre on my 200 acres of soybeans the past five years, I relied more on strip till practices teamed with autosteer," Kloos says. "By using a Pioneer ppst seed treatment combined with Trilex fungicide and insecticides has improved emergence by 20%."
His herbicide treatment was pre-emerge Enlight and Dual with a cleanup pass of Glyphosate. Foliar applications of boron, manganese and 3-18-18 were put on at the second trifoliate leaf stage along with 9 ounces of Headline per acre.
"Crop scouting along with taking soil and tissue samples have been keys to maintaining consistent yields," adds the Marathon County farmer. "Entering the contest with a small plot provides an excellent opportunity to learn how different management practices work or in some cases may not help the bottom line."
- Persinger writes from Milwaukee.