Seven Arkansas soybean growers have topped the 100-bushel mark so far

Layne Miles
Layne Miles counts the number of nodes on a soybean plant. There were more than 60.

The father-son team of Matt and Layne Miles are among  a group of seven Arkansas soybean producers who so far have broken the 100-bushels-per-acre yield mark this season, with others possibly to come.

Four of them, including the Mileses, are no strangers to the benchmark, having surpassed it in previous seasons. They all are entrants in the Arkansas Soybean Association’s Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge.

The harvests have come unusually late in the season, says Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean agronomist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. But as any grower in the state will tell you, 2017 has been anything but usual.

“In a typical year, we’d have quit looking at fields in competition two to three weeks ago,” Ross said in a news release. “But it’s the second week of October, and there are still a few potential fields out there.”

Growers Matt Miles and Layne Miles, both of Desha County, returned to the winners’ circle with 105.020 and 108.052 bu/ac, respectively. James Elton Ray and James E. Ray, Jr., both previous 100-plus bushel-per-acre growers of Poinsett County, harvested 105.918 and 103.830 bushels per acre, respectively.

Newcomers to the 100 Bushel Club include John Newkirk of Stuttgart with 103.974 bushels per acre, Billy Wayne Tripp of Searcy with 100.511 bushels per acre and Jason Berry of DeWitt with 102.894 bushels per acre.

“We’ve had a spectacular year for soybeans in Arkansas,” Ross says. He noted that the original U.S. Department of Agriculture soybean acreage estimate of 3.5 million acres for 2017 actually rose slightly — by about 50,000 acres — after severe flooding in the late spring and early summer led some growers to plant beans where they’d lost rice and corn to the weather.

Unseasonable cool temperatures and frequent rains also led to excellent yields, even if the overall average doesn’t put most fields anywhere near the 100-bushel mark.

Data released this week from the U.S.Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates the average soybean yield in the state at 51 bushels per acre — 4 bushels above 2016’s average, and a new state record.

Winners of the 2017 Grow for the Green contest will be recognized at the Arkansas Soybean Association’s annual meeting in January 2018.

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