Crop Tech

March 28, 2009 02:26 PM

Bumper Bean King

Charlie Hinkebein has been spending a lot of time spilling the beans since the 2008 harvest. The Chaffee, Mo., farmer hauled in 109.32 bu. per acre to take the top spot in the non-irrigated category of the Missouri Soybean Association's annual yield contest.

"We had Iowa weather [in Missouri]—lots of rain and cool temperatures most of the summer,” says Hinkebein, describing the 2008 growing season. "I've never seen soybeans set more blooms and pods.”

Hinkebein planted Asgrow AG4903 in 30" rows. Lowering plant populations is a key element in his high-yield strategy. "Planting at 130,000 to 140,000 seeds per acre allows me to achieve more precise seed placement and maximize sunlight,” he says. "I strive for the most efficient amount of seed per foot.”

He also looks for a variety with a good disease resistance package, including resistance to sudden death syndrome. Seed quality was a concern in 2008 and Hinkebein tries to buy soybean seed that tests at least 95% germ.

This triple-digit yield champ admits the contest acres are input-intensive. The winning plots received two foliar fungicide applications and a foliar insecticide treatment—a move that bumped yields by 17 bu. per acre across his competition acres. A root stimulant, 2 lb. of sugar and 2 gal. of 2-20-10, were also part of the recipe. Boron, zinc and manganese were added to a post-Roundup application. "This keeps the beans from shutting down and yellowing,” Hinkebein says.

When aiming for top yields, Hinkebein recommends scouting thoroughly and faithfully. Soil maintenance and a solid fertility program combined with a fungicide/insecticide program is what brings on the bushels, he says.

Hinkebein, who farms with his son-in-law, Carl Landewee, also claimed top honors in the no-till category with a yield of 92.3 bu. per acre using Pioneer 94M30.

Refuge Revelations

Don't give up your refuge. By now you've probably heard that seed companies are seeking corn refuge reductions or trying to incorporate refuge requirements into the bag. Although some seed companies are expecting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rule on those proposals soon, current refuge protocols remain in place for the coming planting season.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is beating the drums to remind growers of the importance of carrying through with insect resistance management plans. Refuge acres are designed to slow the development of resistance. Growers who do not comply with mandatory refuge requirements can lose access to the technology. Seed dealers who do not follow the refuge rules stand to lose their ability to sell the products. Yes, you are being watched. The EPA randomly surveys thousands of growers about their compliance practices each year.

Stacked products, which contain corn rootworm and corn borer Bt traits, present unique challenges since the former traits are more restrictive than the latter. Seed dealers, trait providers and Extension entomologists can provide details. NCGA has a tutorial to help plan refuge strategies at

Rob Korff, chairman of NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group, says adherence to refuge requirements goes beyond protecting current technology. "Future traits that build on
today's technology will only be successful if today's technology remains effective,” he says.

Don't Rush the Season

Got the itch to get at spring work? Don't let last year's late start tempt you to rush to the field before soil is dry enough to work this year, says Mark Hanna, Iowa State University ag engineer.

Soil compaction caused by field traffic and machinery increases with high soil moisture. Hanna notes that maximum soil compaction occurs when soil moisture works as a lubricant between soil particles under heavy pressure from field equipment.

Here's Hanna's method for determining if conditions are right: "Using soil from the tillage or planting depth, try to make a ribbon of soil by pushing it with your thumb over your index finger. If the ribbon breaks after only an inch or two of length, it's dry enough to till and fracture with implements. If the ribbon is 4" or 5" long before breaking, the soil is wet and plastic and will be difficult to fracture and easy to compact.”

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