Desha County producer Matt Miles has broken the 100-bushel-per-acre barrier for the third year in a row, despite a departure from the atypical weather conditions that helped him and four other Arkansans pass the yield milestone during the last two growing seasons.
Contest officials verified the Miles’ yield at 108.77 bushels per acre from a single field that was grown and harvested specifically for the Arkansas Soybean Association’s “Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge” contest.
Wes Kirkpatrick, Desha County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said contest entries must be harvested from a portion of a field ranging from 5-7 acres, and the soybean weight is corrected for moisture and foreign matter when calculating total yield per acre.
Although Miles has established a reputation for producing high yields in the Grow for the Green competition, what made this year’s entry more impressive was the return to “typical Arkansas weather,” said Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“The last couple of years, the weather’s probably been the driving factor for higher yields in the state,” Ross said. “It’s a whole host of different things that have to work really well to hit those high yields. I’m really kind of surprised that he hit it this year — our weather was a little more typical of July and August in Arkansas. Upper 90s, 100s for a couple of days, and we went without rainfall for a pretty good span in July and August.
“The weather in 2015 was a little more adverse for a high yield in soybeans than they have been the last two years,” he said.
Breaking 100 came as a surprise to Miles, too.
“I made a lot of statements to the effect that it probably wouldn’t happen this year,” Miles said. “We really had no idea that it would happen. But we cut a few fields we knew were pretty stout, and they were doing better than we expected. So as we got closer to the maturity of [the contest] field, I had an idea that it could possibly happen. But three weeks ago, I would’ve told you, ‘there’ no way.'”
In January, a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the 2014 Arkansas average soybean yields at 50 bushels per acre, a record in the state. The average takes into account growers across the state, and yields in southeastern Arkansas and throughout the Delta tend to be much higher, due in part to soils particularly well suited for the crop.
Miles said that his yields this year have varied widely from field to field.
“We were just blessed to have a good yield this year, but it’s ranging widely,” Miles said. “You’ll go to one field that’ll be in the 90’s, and the next field a mile down the road, it’ll be in the 60’s. Every field’s different.”
In 2014, Miles squeaked across the finish ling with 100.609 bushels per acre. The previous year, he had a 107.63 bushel yield. Miles’ wife, Sherri, also broke the 100-bushel barrier in 2014, with 106.499 bushels per acre.
Nelson Crow of Dumas was the state’s first farmer to make the milestone, hitting 100.78 bushels in 2013.
The final day to verify yields for the 2015 Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge is Dec. 1.