Almost 600 entries from farmers in 28 counties have participated in the Michigan soybean yield contest over the past eleven years.  

Now farmers can enter a revised 2017 contest with some new changes.  Entry classes have been changed to allow for a more uniform number of entries spread among the five maturity group classes.  And more participants will be able to win prizes for high yielding soybeans even if theirs was not the highest yielding entry of a particular class.  

The yield contest is sponsored by the Michigan soybean checkoff program and Spartan Agricultural Consulting.  The contest brochure, including the entry form, is now available at the www.michigansoybean.org website.  Farmers can evaluate fields through August to make a decision about which field(s) to enter no later than September 9, 2017.

One major change made recently was the inclusion of a non-GMO category.  This variety can be of any maturity and can be either irrigated or non-irrigated.  Just as in gluten free, non GMO is something that is not going away in the minds of consumers.  Yields in the contest have ranged from the 80’s to the 60’s for this category of soybean that commands a premium price.

Although the contest is not a research based checkoff project, it is something that any Michigan soybean farmer can enter, have some fun and see if there is something they can do to increase yields on their farm.  Past years have shown that even some simple things can make a difference in yields.  These practices have included:

• More and higher contest yields have occurred in tilled fields than in no-till fields.

• More and higher contest yields have occurred in wider row widths than in those with narrower row widths.  No one in the top ten had a row width of less than 15 inches, while 40 percent of the bottom ten yielding entries still planted with a drill in 7.5 inch rows.

• Fully 90 percent of the bottom ten yielding entries did not know if their contest field had a history of Soybean cyst nematodes.  80 percent of the top ten yielding entries did know this.

• 83 percent of the top group had soil tested recently while 60 percent of the bottom group had not done a basic soil test recently.

For 2017 the entry fee is $25, with a two entry limit.  For more information about the contest, contact Ned Birkey at birkey@msu.edu or 734-260-3442.

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