Beaned his own record
Farmers have always led the way to higher-yielding crops, often experimenting with technologies not yet mainstream. Those technologies may begin in test tubes, growing chambers and greenhouses.
But farmers are the undisputed leaders in taking technology to the field. When a Midwestern farmer smashes a world record, Eastern growers want to know how it was done. That’s the reason for this special report on Kip Cullers’ world record-busting 160.6-bushel soybean yield.
• Many technologies played a role in Cullers’ 160-bushel bean yields.
• Numerous products were used to enhance rooting and branching.
• With induced extensive branching, he thinks 200-bushel beans is achievable.
This year, the three-time world champ from Stark City, Mo., knocked off his own previous records of 139 bushels in 2006 and 154.57 bushels in 2007. Even Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is excited about Cullers’ achievement: “When it comes to soybean production, Cullers continues to take the science to a whole new level.”
How he did it
Cullers’ yield-busting secrets lie in all the technologies he employs, and long before those beans hit the weigh wagon, the PR machines of every company product used by Cullers shifted into gear.
• Before a single soybean hit dirt, BASF was on the farm with video cameras to capture the drop of the first seed and Cullers’ use of Kixor herbicide technology and Headline fungicide. They shadowed him all the way through harvest.
• DuPont/Pioneer also followed the yield-meister, from the planting of its 94Y71 in twin rows to the day the combine worked through the irrigated, conventionally tilled field. DuPont’s Asana XL and Steward EC insecticides were also used.
• EMD Crop BioScience’s Optimize 400 was in the seed treatment mix used to boost nitrogen fixation and root development.
• Stoller’s Bio-Forge was added to Cullers’ seed treatment and foliar applications to enhance early root growth. Frame, Keylate manganese and Sugar Mover, also from Stoller, were foliar-applied to improve pod set.
• His 2005 Monosem NG+3 Series eight-row twin-row planter was upgraded with Monosem’s Sync-Row timing system. The twin-row pairs are 9.5 inches apart, set on 30-inch centers.
Several other experimental products were used but are still under wraps.
Ever the innovator, Cullers tried something totally new this year in his contest plot. “I sprayed Cobra on my soybeans before the V-3 trifoliate leaf stage. It smoked them to the ground, then caused the plants to branch out just above the ground.”
Land-grant research trials have confirmed that Cobra increases phytoalexin production in soybean plants and reduces white mold. Phytoalexin is an antimicrobial compound produced by a plant in response to a pathogen. Outcome: The soybeans branched extensively, resulting in pod counts far above average.
“If I can figure out just how to do that 230,000 times an acre, we’d have no trouble making 200-bushel yields,” remarks Cullers, who won’t be satisfied until he reaches that mark.
The record-setting yield was planted April 14 and harvested Sept. 28 in well-drained soils fertilized with chicken manure. The plots were scouted almost daily for disease and insects. Dry conditions have been experienced in all three years that Cullers broke the soybean yield record.
“Weather conditions are a significant factor, and we experienced times when conditions were not all that favorable this season,” Cullers says. “However, with irrigation and managing for stresses along the way, yields came through.”
This article published in the December, 2010 edition of AMERICAN AGRICULTURIST.