As Missouri farmer Charlie Hinkebein gears up to plant soybeans for 2009, he says he will rely on the same formula for success that garnered him a record-breaking yield in 2008.
Hinkebein, who is only the third U.S. farmer on record to achieve soybean yields of more than 100 bushels per acre, attributes his success to attention to detail and simple agronomic practices that he believes can be applied to almost any farming operation.
Last year, Hinkebein’s Asgrow brand AG4903 soybeans yielded 109.3 bushels per acre, earning him first place in the non-irrigated category of the Missouri Soybean Association’s annual yield contest and an induction into the organization’s newly created 100-Bushel Club.
"The 100-Bushel Club was formed to celebrate the accomplishments of our leading soybean farmers and to provide an attainable goal for others to aim for as they strive for higher yields," said Dale R. Ludwig, executive director and CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association. "Improving yields is a goal all farmers share, and we believe the 100-Bushel Club will help farmers identify best practices which can help raise yields not only on contest plots, but all soybean acreage."
The other Missouri farmer to achieve more than 100-bushel-per-acre soybeans did so on an irrigated field. Like most farmers, Hinkebein of Chaffee, Mo., plants his soybeans on non-irrigated acres. Without irrigation, Hinkebein counts on a number of other practices to maximize yield potential.
Here are the 10 tips that Hinkebein suggests to help growers to improve their yield potential:
• Use industry-leading genetics. “Good genetics have a lot to do with products’ performance right now, and Monsanto’s been keeping up with genetics and technology, so yields have been increasing,” Hinkebein says. This spring, he will plant 65 percent of his soybean acres to Asgrow, including AG4903, AG4906, AG4907 and two Asgrow Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield brands.
• Prepare your seed bed in the fall for best soil conditions.
• Pay attention to your planting rates. “Stop scattering seed on the field, and plant with intention,” he says. “I strive for the most efficient amount of seed per foot.” For Hinkebein, reducing his plant population from 200,000 to 130,000 seeds per acre allows him to achieve more precise seed placement and maximize sunlight.
• Fertilize for top yields.
• Keep fields weed-free – starting in the fall. “The main thing you’ve got to do is keep your fields clean,” he explains. “Start out clean and watch for disease and insects.”
• Use fungicide as often as needed (and according to label). Throughout the growing season, Hinkebein focuses on keeping his fields disease-free and applies fungicide as necessary — something many U.S. farmers don’t do, largely because of the cost of multiple applications.
• Use insecticide as often as needed (and according to label).
• Scout fields often. “You can’t just drive by a field and look at it from a pickup truck,” he says. “You have to get out there and walk your fields.”
• Try new products and management ideas each year.
• Recognize Mother Nature has the trump card. Moisture and sunlight drive soybean yields.
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