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Soybean yield contest challenges farmers to grow yields

LANSING, MI -- The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee (MSPC) challenges farmers to beat last year's contest-winning yield of 102.12 bushels per acre and reap the rewards of its 10th annual Soybean Yield Contest. In 2014 Don Stall of Eaton County won the overall contest as well as the maturity group II, irrigated soybeans, class.

The contest is sponsored by MSPC and Spartan Agricultural Consulting. Contest Coordinator Ned Birkey says, "The contest is a fun way to encourage Michigan farmers to increase their soybean yields and profitability, and be rewarded and recognized for high yields."

"The contest furthers the soybean checkoff goal to advance science-based management practices," according to MSPC Research Coordinator Mark Seamon. "All soybean farmers can benefit from one result of the contest, identifying strategies that increase yields."

For fairness, entries are categorized by maturity group and irrigation status. Farmers can choose from six classes, including a new class this year, non-GMO soybeans. Non-GMO entries can be of any maturity group and from irrigated or non-irrigated fields.

Last year's contest brought 69 entries from 60 farmers in 23 counties: Allegan, Arenac, Bay, Cass, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ionia, Isabella, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee, Macomb, Monroe, Montcalm, Ottawa, Saginaw, Sanilac, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtenaw and Wayne. Winning yields came from farmers in Cass, Eaton, Lenawee and Tuscola counties.

The yield contest is open to all Michigan soybean farmers. Each may submit one or two entries, although they may win only one category. An impartial third party must be present to witness the harvest.

Winners of each class will be recognized at the 3rd annual Great Lakes Crops Summit January 27-28, 2016, at the Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant.

All farmers who pay the entry fee and complete the harvest form may have their entry fee applied toward the cost of a 2016 membership in the Michigan Soybean Association. Each will receive a personalized 2015 Michigan Soybean Yield Contest cap and other prizes from cooperating seed companies.

The winner of each class will receive all of the above mentioned items plus a personalized jacket or vest, a trophy and reimbursement of up to $1,000 in expenses for attending the 2016 Commodity Classic to be held March 3-5 in New Orleans.

Birkey says management information will be collected along with yield data to identify correlations between management practices and yield. With nine years of history on participants' production practices, the data becomes more valuable each year. To date, 347 farmers have entered 502 fields.

Although Birkey says the contest is not a replicated research project in which organizers can point to key statistics as increasing yields or profits, he can identify trends and factors that top-yielding farmers have employed. Some of these are:

• Nine of last year's top ten entrants know whether the contest field had a history of soybean cyst nematodes. Nine of the bottom ten did not know whether SCN were present.

• The ten top-yielding fields had more pods than the ten lowest yielding fields. Producers of the higher yielding fields noted that more pods contained four beans.

• About 83 percent of the top-ten group said the contest field had been soil tested within the past three years. Only 40 percent of the bottom ten indicated a recent soil test.

To get started competing in the 2015 Soybean Yield Contest, farmers may visit to complete a simple form. The registration fee of $25 per entry is due August 30. The harvest form will be due November 15.

Farmers can request more information about contest rules and how to enter by contacting Ned Birkey at or 734.260.3442.

The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee manages soybean checkoff funds to increase return on investment for Michigan soybean farmers while enhancing sustainable soybean production. A board of farmer leaders directs MSPC on behalf of more than 12,000 Michigan soybean farmers. For information about soybean checkoff results, call 989.652.3294 or visit