What is in this article?:
- Matt Miles takes top spot in chase for highest Arkansas soybean yield.
- Harvested a Group 4, 107.63-bushel field in mid-September.
- How did he do it?
Arkansas producer Matt Miles broke his state's soybean record with 107.63 bushels per acre.
After so many years working the same land, a farmer gets a feel for what each field is going to yield, says Miles. “If X field cuts 70 bushels, you can be pretty sure that Y field will cut 78 bushels and Z field will cut 85.
“After 2012, I told Robb, ‘Man, I don’t know if I want to do this (in 2013).’ Robb said, ‘We can do this! We can do it!’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll consider it on two specific fields.’”
They went with the old family land, in corn a year earlier.
“I just had a feeling,” says Miles. “That field is irrigated with polypipe – we’ve got a 50-horsepower submersible and a 30-horsepower submersible, so there’s ample water.”
Dedman’s contributions proved extremely valuable, says Miles. “If it was up to me, I’d have configured the contest plot a little different than Robb did. And if I had, I’d have made less yield. I wanted to go deeper into the field. Two years ago, the field was in soybeans and the lower end cut in the 100s and the upper end cut in the 80s. When we decided to put it in the yield contest, I wanted to use the poorer ground.
“But this year, the field’s better-yielding area flip-flopped. I think it had something to do with irrigation but, regardless, we used the top half of the field.”
The record crop was grown with a Group 4, Asgrow 4632, and a plant population between 145,000 and 150,000.
Miles admits to still feeling like a novice when it comes to soybeans. “We haven’t been trying to farm high-yielding soybeans but for four or five years. Used to be, if we could get 40- or 50-bushel soybeans, we thought that was a homerun because it was on 25 acres of poor land.”
That changed when his cotton ground opened up. “In the last few years, we’ve been growing soybeans like we would a cotton crop. We’re putting a lot more money per acre in them and that’s really boosted yields.”
At the same time, “Robb is very innovative and always wants to try new things. He encouraged me to step out of the box and try something new.”
Miles tried a variety similar to Asgrow 4632 three years ago. It was free seed but it ended up costing him about $15,000 in yield. “So, I actually lost $5,000 to use the seed. That’s what can happen, even if you’re careful.
“I’m a big believer in studying university trials as the basis for seed selection. I’ll sit for a day in the winter, picking out varieties of corn and beans. Robb brings in his list and we compare. Lots of times we’ve picked the same varieties.”
The men insist they didn’t do anything “too special” on the contest field. Dedman says what sets Miles apart is, “his efficiency and his ability to be timely. He is on the ball. I can call him and say ‘we need to do this’ and he’ll be chasing me out of the field to get it done.
“So, underneath we went with Verdict and came back with Prefix. Of course, we used Roundup. The beans were also sprayed with Priaxor, a fungicide. They were treated for insects only once – Orthene.”
Chicken litter has also been applied to Miles’ land – about 9,000 tons annually. The litter is hard to get, but one of his best friends, Mike McGregor, helped him get together with some chicken farmers and now Mike hauls and applies all Matt's litter.
The beans ended up tall and bushy – around chest-high.
“They had a good lean on them after a couple of strong winds came through,” says Dedman. “The stalks were just loaded.”
Early on, though, the Group 4s didn’t look very promising.
BASF’s Brad Koen – who, coincidentally, also worked with the first Arkansas 100-bushel buster, Nelson Crow, just up the road -- has been Miles’ good friend for a long time. “We went to school together. He talked me into using Verdict. I trust him very much – he’s top-notch. The price was right and we needed something for pigweed control.”
But about three weeks after application, Miles was calling Dedman and Koen griping. “I was burning the phone lines up. The beans had stunted and looked like they were going to die – a train wreck. Well, it turned out that was just due to the cold temperatures. Others were running into the same problems with all sorts of chemistries.”
Then, around the R1 stage, things turned around and the crop took off.
“Honestly, we didn’t do much different than normal,” says Miles. “I attribute the majority of this 100-bushel yield to the Good Lord. The nighttime temperatures made the yield.
“I’m not big on snake oil. If you have the right crew, good, conscientious people working with you – from my family to Robb to (Desha County Extension chair) Wes Kirkpatrick and all the other folks that help us – and the weather cooperates, the yields will come.”
The Group 4s were blooming before they really began growing, says Dedman. “The cold had sat down on them. Once the temperatures warmed up, we stuck every bloom. The pod-load was unreal.
“We all go to meetings and listen for tips. What is Kip Cullers doing? Well, I’m convinced a big part of it is where he’s located. The temperatures they experience in southwest Missouri allows the beans to respire at night. This year, we had a similar situation here.
“And, again, I point to Matt’s insistence on being timely. Those contest beans never wanted for anything. Fertility wasn’t an issue. Weed control wasn’t an issue. Irrigation wasn’t an issue.”