WASECA, Minn. — It began with a goal, and a lofty one at that. Gene Kuntz, site manager for Farmamerica, worked with Beck’s Hybrids’ field agronomist Mike Blaine to try to reach 100 soybean bushels per acre. The challenge trial started on April 27 when Kuntz’s planted Beck’s 2662FB bean variety on over five acres at Farmamerica.
Kuntz put the beans in ground which was strip tilled with band fertilization last November. The bean seed was treated with ILeVO, a nematode seed treatment. An inoculant and pop-up starter were also applied at planting. Kuntz sprayed pre-emergence herbicide a few days after planting. Through the growth stages, he applied nutrients and herbicides, carbohydrates and fungicides.
“We didn’t only plant 5.41 acres; we planted a larger area. This was the harvested area. The goal with these type of trials is to harvest a minimum of five acres, with uniformity of the site. We aren’t looking to measure the variability of a field; but rather the yield/income opportunity,” Blaine said.
This isn’t the first time Blaine has worked with Farmamerica. He’s been coordinating on various projects there since 2011 — including high management/yield trials, genetic, nutrient management and crop protection.
“We have 100 acres that is managed by Crystal Valley Co-op with primarily a 50/50 corn soybean rotation. They perform herbicide, variety, fertility and tillage studies and use that information yearly to inform their members,” Kuntz said.
Farmamerica has 15 acres in a five-year study on cover crops in corn and beans. Twenty-five acres of peas and 25 acres of corn is grown at Farmamerica and 45 acres of land is rented out. According to Kuntz, all crops raised at Farmamerica are marketed through Crystal Valley Co-op.
The 100 Bushel Challenge was first attempted at Farmamerica in 2019. It resulted in an impressive 80 bushels per acre. “This kind of approach isn’t for all fields. You’re going to be putting in a lot of effort,” Kuntz said.
This year the beans were looking great in the field all growing season and the work Kuntz put into the crop paid off. “I knew we were going to hit at least the 80s.”
So many aspects worked in the crops’ favor, starting with Kuntz being able to get an early start getting the beans in the ground. It continued with the four inches of rain which fell in August, which was just what the crop needed. “They were monster plants,” Kuntz said. The beans were 42 inches tall; the leaves were four to five inches in diameter.
While the yields in this bean field was remarkable, it was simply an impressive year to grow beans in the area. “It was a good bean year,” Kuntz said. The yield ended up being 94.52 bushels per acre at 10.3 percent moisture, 99.28 bushels per acre at 13 percent. “I don’t think anyone has had this yield in southern Minnesota,” Kuntz said.
The extra cost was $88.94 per acre over traditional bean inputs. It resulted in $260 additional grain profit per acre, $140 after removing the added $89 in inputs. The crop was sold for $8.60/bushel. Kuntz enjoys a good challenge and will try the same methods again next year to see if he and Blaine can replicate the success or even beat it.