Unleash the Potential of Your Soybeans
Growers across the state have planted and tested numerous innovative crop management strategies and technologies to Yield Challenge Plots. Many are still harvesting their plots. But the results are in for LaSalle county soybean farmer, Dan Arkels, and he's already proven 100-bushel soybean yields are possible in Illinois.
2014 Results Prove Record-Breaking
Dan Arkels, Peru, Ill., recently harvested a record-breaking 103.95 bushels of soybeans per acre on his 30-acre LaSalle county test plot. Arkels’ yield was verified by an independent agronomist as part of the Illinois Soybean Association’s (ISA’s) 100 Bushel Challenge program.
“In my world, this is like winning the World Series,” explains Arkels. “Someone needed to prove it’s possible to raise 100-bushel soybeans in Illinois and I was lucky in that I had the right growing season to do it.”
The Road to 100-Bushels
Arkels is not a newcomer to the ISA Yield Challenge program, having participated in both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, he was recognized as one of three Illinois growers achieving more than 80 bushels per acre. His 2014 results have broken the previous program record by nearly 15 bushels.
“We are excited to congratulate Dan on achieving this important milestone in Illinois agriculture,” says Donald Guinnip, production committee chair for ISA and soybean farmer from Marshall, Ill. “Our goal for the 2014 Yield Challenge was to have growers reach for the 100-bushel mark and Dan has proven that it’s possible, given today’s high-performing soybean varieties and smart management decisions.”
Raising 100-Bushel Beans
In addition to the weather, Arkels attributes his success to using the latest in soybean seed genetics and working to keep the plants healthy all season. “My top goal this year was to save as many blossoms and pods as possible,” he explains.
He adds that working with a team of local experts played an important role in helping him make the right decisions for his farm. Arkels says he relied on guidance from Dave Callan of GRAINCO FS, Inc., his local Pioneer dealers George and Dan Lucach of Lucach Seed, Don Stork from StollerUSA and Shawn Clapp from Rosen’s Inc., to help manage his 2014 Yield Challenge test plot.
Arkels planted his record-breaking plot on May 8 in what he described as “nearly ideal conditions,” including warm weather and timely rains. He also selected a 3.4 maturity level variety. “I chose this variety in hopes of capturing more sunlight and more of the growing season,” he explains. Arkels plants a 2.8 maturity variety on the balance of his acres.
From his experience with previous Yield Challenge contests, Arkels knew that a preplant application of potash and phosphorus, as well as 15-inch row spacing, would translate into higher yields, as would a foliar application of N, Zn, Mn, Fe and S, applied at V3-V4. He applied additional slow-release nitrogen and micronutrients throughout the season and fungicides as needed.
Fluctuating weather patterns contributed to some mid-season stress from Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) on his farm, though Arkels estimates that it only affected one to two percent of the plants in his test plot, not significantly affecting his yields.
Promoting the Benefits of On-farm Research
ISA established the Yield Challenge—funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff—in 2010 as a means of encouraging growers to conduct on-farm research to evaluate different management practices.
Arkels agrees the program has helped him evaluate the best management practices for his farm. “I do things differently on my Challenge plot to learn what’s going to really move beans to the next level,” he explains.
In 2013 the ISA Yield Challenge program expanded to add the new 100 Bushel Challenge, which will award $5,000 to the grower raising the highest yield over 100 bushels per acre. More than 25 growers participated in the 2014 100 Bushel Challenge and many are still harvesting their plots. Arkels’ harvest qualifies him for the Challenge; however, the winner will not be announced until all participants harvest their plots and yields are verified.
For more information on how Dan Arkels produced 100-bushel soybeans, visit www.ilsoyadvisor.com