The 100-bushel soybeans were harvested in a 40-acre block of a 200-acre field. The other 160 acres averaged 85 bushels.

“That’s still a great yield,” says Crow. “But that 40 acres had plants that were healthier, they kept leaves on five or six days longer. They looked greener.

“It’s hard to put your finger on it, but I think that second shot of fungicide in combination with the cool temperatures really bumped the yields. Truth is, we weren’t even planning on trying for the yield trial. If that was the plan, I should have put (molybdenum) on the seed since the field has a relatively low pH. I think we left some yield on the table, actually.”

Koen points to the importance of fungicides. “A while back, fungicides were used mainly on seed beans. The seed companies didn’t require it but highly recommended it because it improved seed quality.

“As a consultant in those days, we got to noticing the seed beans were out-yielding the production beans. We were getting a pretty good yield bump from the fungicides.”

What was learned from the seed bean business “is even in the absence of visual disease, we can improve soybeans by optimizing plant health.”

Crow credits BASF’s Priaxor, a combination of Headline and Xemium. Xemium, he says, “is really good on aerial web blight. With Headline able to work on frogeye, Priaxor deals with two of the toughest soybean diseases we deal with.”

He also says another benefit of Priaxor is after application the canopy is actually cooler than without the product. “That’s a huge deal. If we can keep the canopy cooler, it’s worth spraying just for that benefit. Keeping the plants cooler means extra yield.”

Crow’s farm contains a wide range of soils but “that 200 acres are some of the best on the farm. We used to harvest three-bale cotton on it.”

As for the Pioneer variety, “we’ve actually grown 80-bushel beans with it before. I knew it would do well, although the 100 bushels was a surprise. Turned out, we had three-bean pods from the bottom of the plants all the way to the top. I didn’t see one-bean or two-bean pods on any of those plants. And clusters of seven or eight pods were consistent. It was amazing!”

Irrigation was also key, says Koen. “We deal with operations that have trouble getting irrigation right. Some water too much, some not enough, some have a hard time getting water on and off a field. You know, getting water on and off is almost as important as irrigation frequency. A bean can’t sit in water.” 

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 Bitten by the big-yield bug, Crow vows to try something similar next year.

“I’ve been thinking about what to do. What varieties? What fields to plant? Maybe try using some chicken litter like Kip Cullers up in Missouri?

“Of course, I’ll plant this Pioneer variety again. I’d love to just be consistent with such high yields and I’m considering what fields to try this on.”