Perry Galloway was aiming for a massive soybean yield, so breaking 100 bushels was no accident. But when all the calculations for moisture and the like had been done, 100 had been left in the dust. The final number: 108.76 bushels per acre.
And that wasn’t the only one. A second field, under his brother, Charles, cut a shade under 101 bushels.
A few days later, in north-central Arkansas’ Gregory, Galloway is standing in a loaded field of double-crop beans. His roots in the area are sunk much deeper than his crop’s.
“My family has been around here since 1856. The majority of our farm is around Gregory. The east side of Highway 33 is mostly Eldridge property and my grandmother was an Eldridge.
“My mother was a Gregory and their land is on the west side of 33. I’m the last remaining heir that’s still actually day-to-day farming.”
To say Galloway is a multi-tasker would be a serious understatement. There is a constant stream of friends, employees, customers and consultants walking through his office door. “It’s always like this,” he says, smiling. “I don’t mind, at all.”
Besides farming, Galloway runs Broadview Aviation, where he is a pilot. “The aerial application service employs five folks and runs two planes. We also have an independent full chemical/pesticide operation.”
When Galloway’s uncle and cousin retired five years ago he began farming all the land they left. “I also own and farm around 2,000 acres north of Augusta. All told, I farm about 8,000 acres.
“We normally plant 1,500 to 2,000 acres of wheat followed by beans. The next year, that will be in corn. What was in corn the previous year will then be in soybeans. Our wheat yields are usually around 88 to 92 bushels.”
Charles and Perry jointly own some of the land. Charles “works on the financial end, mostly.
“We farm corn, soybeans, rice, grain sorghum and wheat. Back when I farmed 2,500 acres it was all in cotton. But as the markets changed, our crops became more diversified. We started growing corn in the late 1990s and expanded from there.”
How does Galloway approach crop management?
“The thing with cotton, of course, is it’s a crop you must manage daily. I was used to that and as we started planting more corn and beans I thought, ‘Well, what if we use the same daily management practices on these step-child crops?’ So, we did and it started paying off in big ways.
“We soil test every year and try to do it in January if it’s dry enough. We have lighter, sandier cotton soils.
“We’re about as close to being fully irrigated as you can get – probably 95 percent. Irrigation is a necessity because of the lighter soils. We’ve got around 30 center pivots and it’s a full-time job keeping those running. There’s also a fair share of furrow-irrigated, leveled land. A smaller portion is in contoured levees.”
There’s excellent water in the area “with about a 15-foot water table. Getting water on the crop isn’t a problem and it’s relatively inexpensive.”
The first year Perry got back into corn and got serious about the crop, “Pioneer talked me into entering a yield contest. The yield was 279 bushels. That didn’t mean anything to me until they told me I’d won.
“We’ve been doing that corn contest since 2009. This is the first year since I haven’t entered it – this year was just disappointing since we didn’t hit over 300 bushels.
“Although we didn’t get it this year, we hit 100-bushel wheat for three consecutive years – 2012 through 2014.”
Last year, Galloway set a dryland grain sorghum record at 179 bushels. “That field was actually set up to be irrigated but it rained enough to where we never put water on it.
“As for soybeans, we always make good yields. I’ve entered the Grow for the Green contest every year and was on the podium. But we never hit that magical 100 bushels. Last year, we cut 99.63 bushels – right on the cusp. That really made us want to bear down and get it done this year.
“So, we planted soybeans a bit earlier this year. People ask all the time what the secret is for high yields. There are no silver bullets but one thing we did this year was use an inoculant. I feel that paid bigger than I realized.”
This year, Galloway hit nearly 109 bushels with Pioneer 46T21. “They were planted on April 29, although normally I’d rather be closer to April 15. We planted 140,000 and ended up with a final population of 120,000. They were planted twin-row on 38 inches.
“The field was in corn in 2014. This year, it was furrow-irrigated and it was watered five or six times.”
As in many other areas of the Mid-South, Palmer pigweeds are “horrible” in this area. “If you can plant beans early enough, they’ll canopy before there are huge flushes of Palmer. It turned out all our beans planted, say, May 20 or before, weed control was acceptable.
“The fields planted after that, though – including double-cropped beans -- were a disaster. We sprayed everything we could and it still didn’t do the trick. We had to have chopping crews come in and take them out. We actually got back into milo last year largely to help with our pigweed situation.”
The record soybeans “had about 18 fruiting nodes and 24 total nodes. There were four to five three-bean pods per node. I like to get at least 20 fruiting nodes with the same number of pods per node. That, mathematically, should help increase yield. If we’d planted 10 days earlier, we might have accomplished that.”
This competition field was actually Plan B, says Galloway. “It was well into mid-season when my consultant pulled me aside and said, ‘hey, you need to come check out this field. This may be the one.’ I walked out there and said, ‘I believe he’s right.’
“The original competition field cut 98.6 bushels. My brother’s competition field – Asgrow 4232s -- cut nearly 101 bushels.”
Galloway uses a lot of chicken litter – about two tons to the acre. “We’re close enough to the foothill poultry operations that we don’t have a supply problem like in other parts of the state. One of the problems with litter, of course, is the nutrient levels aren’t always stable from year to year. So, we’re going back every few years to monitor the fields and make fertilizer corrections with custom-blended fertilizer.
“I work with Pioneer’s Territory Manager, Jason Rudick, to come up with varieties to plant. Jason and I have worked together for a long time and we go over every field. We look at history, yield maps and whatever else we can put eyeballs on to figure out the best variety for individual fields.
“I have a consultant, Joey Branch, that runs weekly or twice a week depending on the crop stage. He’s top-notch and I have a lot of faith in him. We do a lot of tissue testing. On corn, we do it weekly. For soybeans, we test at least monthly at the important growth stages. If we find a problem, we don’t hesitate to send off a tissue test.
“We also do some foliar feeding and use products like Bioforge. All our micronutrients are monitored and corrected as needed.”
Galloway has an extremely proactive management philosophy. “Since I’m a retired cotton farmer, I really dislike insect pests. We’ll go early rather than wait for insects to make thresholds. The same goes for plant disease – we catch them early and don’t hesitate to put out a fungicide. Those are also times to piggyback a foliar feed, biological, or some sort of stimulant.”