Pushing for ever-higher soybean yields, in 2013, the Arkansas Soybean Association continued both the Race for 100 Bushels per Acre Soybean Yield Contest and the Grow for the Green ($$$$) Soybean Yield Challenge.

While too late to sign up for the 2013 contests, producers – surely buoyed by at least three southeast Arkansas producers recently bursting through the 100-bushel-per-acre barrier -- can begin to plan for next year’s super yields.

“We did change things up a bit this year,” says Lanny Ashlock, with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board outreach. “Previously, it was divided up by production system, statewide. Those included the ‘early season indeterminates’ – mostly Group 4s – that we try to get planted by mid-April and harvested before mid-September. The second category was ‘full-season’ production. The third category was ‘double crop’ behind wheat.”

More on the foundation for higher soybean yields here.

For 2013, the contest was divided up by geographical regions. “Those consist of four- and five-county areas: northeast Arkansas east of Crowley’s Ridge; northeast Arkansas up to the Missouri line, west of Crowley’s Ridge; and then work down through the Delta. That means there are five or six districts. Then, there’s one district from Little Rock west, north to south.”

For each of the areas, the first place winner/highest yield, receives $10,000. Second place gets $7,500 and third place gets $5,000.

Another category is for non-GM soybeans. That category is open statewide for those who want to grow conventional varieties.

For more specifics on the contests, see here.

Upping the ante?

Ashlock, a veteran soybean researcher/agronomist in the state, says “There’s plenty of incentive to try and win those awards – I think over $200,000 is available. That just points to the fact that the ASPB and ASA are really trying help growers to concentrate on what they can do on their farms to increase yields.”

Winchester, Ark., producer Nelson Crow, who harvested a 100.78-bushel crop in early September, “kind of woke us up to what’s possible with a 3.9 (Group soybean). We knew something that early had good yield potential but I didn’t think that the 100-bushels-per-acre would initially come out of that Group.

“And we learned! We learn from innovative growers and that’s great. They lead the way and they’ll be rewarded.”

More on Crow here.

While it was a surprise a 3.9 broke the barrier, was it a surprise to Ashlock that it happened in Desha County?

“It wasn’t. The weather pattern of the last four or five years has allowed many of the growers there to do well. We know that planting date is a huge deal. You can get hailed out and the seed company can provide more seed to plant, but they can’t give him the lost time back.

“Desha County farmers were able to get in earlier than folks in northeast Arkansas where it was wet. Now, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. But this year, it’s been obvious that there are some awfully good soybeans in southeast Arkansas.”

Now that the 100-bushel barrier has been broken, will there be a re-set in 2014? Will the promotions/contests shoot for 110 bushels?

“We’ll talk about it,” says Ashlock. “I’ve heard from some former board members who have encouraged us to raise the bar and push on. There is so much excitement about this! (The high-yield producers have) made so many folks feel like they’ve been a part of this, like it’s a team effort. ‘We jumped the first hurdle, now let’s keep going!’

“Nothing is set in stone, but I suspect the ASPB will want to continue the contest and push for even higher yields.”