Soybean harvest is just around the corner in Kansas. It is a good idea for producers to keep in mind the Kansas Soybean Yield and Value contest before they fire up the combines.
Each year the Kansas Soybean Association, with help from K-State Research and Extension, and sponsorship from the Kansas Soybean Commission, conducts the Kansas Soybean Yield and Value Contest. The contest is a fun way for producers to showcase their high yielding and high quality soybean with other growers in the state, and to provide information on what production practices they did to achieve those excellent yields. In addition to grower recognition, cash awards are distributed to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for the 9 districts across Kansas and the top three finishers in the quality contest. Contest rules and entry forms are found online at http://kansassoybeans.org/association/contests/
The yield contest first began in the early 1980’s but more detailed historical data began in the early 2000’s. When growers submit entry forms for the contest, they are asked to share some of their production practices that they used on the soybean crop. Using this information we can identify shifts in producer practices over the last two decades from high yielding soybean growers.
When plotting out the state yields over the last 20 years, state soybean yields have improved almost 8 bushels per acre (bu/acre) while soybean yield contest entrants have gained nearly double that (15 bu/acre) in the same span of time (Figure 1). This indicates that soybeans are a crop that can be managed for higher yield when proper high yield practices are adopted. The average yield gap between high yield soybean and state average soybean is nearly 37 bu/acre. In addition, the yield gap has enlarged from 1996 to 2016.
Figure 1. Difference in yield between state-average as reported by Kansas Ag Statistics and the entries in the Kansas Soybean Yield Contest from 1996 to 2016.
A few soybean production practices have changed over time as well. Over the last decade, producers in the soybean yield contest have moved to a lower seeding rate (Figure 2). In 2001, seeding rate averaged just over 165,000 seeds per acre and by 2016 seeding rates dropped below 150,000 seeds per acre. This may be a function of seed prices increasing over time and producers have more confidence in final plant stand with improved planting equipment and seed treatments. In addition to seeding rate changes, soybean row spacing has also seen a decline over time with narrower rows (<30 in) being adopted more by growers in the Kansas Soybean Yield Contest (Figure 3). This decline is likely due to reduction in use of drills and the increase use of planters to sow soybean.
Figure 2. Seeding rate of contestants in the Kansas Soybean Yield Contest from 2001 to 2016.
Figure 3. Row spacing of Kansas Soybean Yield Contest entrants from 2001 to 2016. Narrow rows were any spacing 10-in or less. Wide rows were any spacing 30-in or greater. Mid-rows were any spacing between 10- and 30-inch.
Since 2004, Kansas soybean producers have had the opportunity to enter their soybeans into the Value Contest. With this information, the contest is able to showcase the true end-use value of soybeans including protein, oil, and other value added products.
With many field crops, a relationship exists between yield and protein where protein decreases as yield increases. However in the case of the soybean yield contest, there doesn’t appear to be a strong relationship in protein (slight negative relationship) nor in oil (slight positive relationship) relative to yield over the last 13 years (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Relationship between soybean oil and protein vs. soybean yield for 100 entries in the Kansas Soybean Value Contest between 2004 and 2016.
If a producer has interest in submitting an entry in the Kansas Soybean Yield Contest, they need:
The Soybean Yield and Value Contest is free to producers. One does not have to enter the Yield contest to enter the Soybean Value Contest, just fill out the entry form and mail a 20 ounce soybean sample to the Kansas Soybean Office by December 1, 2017. The contest winners will be announced at the Kansas Soybean Expo on January 10, 2018 in Topeka. To find the rules and entry form, visit http://kansassoybeans.org
Doug Shoup, Southeast Area Crops and Soils Agronomist
Ignacio A. Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist