What would it take to get an extra 5 bushels per acre out of your soybean crop? An extra 10 bushels? Even more than that? And what impact would that kind of yield boost have on your bottom line?
These are important questions many producers examine each year as they head into planting season. They are also foundational to the South Dakota Soybean Yield and Quality Contest.
An initiative of the South Dakota Soybean Association, the yield contest is open to SDSA members and non-members alike. It was launched initially to support learning and improved practices on individual farms as well as to move the soybean industry forward statewide.
It features three classes—Master, Main and Youth—and multiple maturity groups and categories within the main and youth classes. Awards are underwritten by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, with a $2000 cash prize granted to the top-yielding entry in each category.
“It’s always nice to win some money and to be able to have the recognition,” said Jeff Thompson, who farms near Colton, South Dakota, and serves on the South Dakota Soybean Association Board of Directors as second vice president.
Thompson says among the key outcomes of the yield contest are the insights it provides each year into best practices, from seed treatments and pesticide applications to soil management and row spacing. South Dakota Soybean shares these findings with growers across the state through its Soy100 educational programming each winter to help advance soybean production.
“We’re all a little bit different in how we run and operate our farms,” said Thompson. “So picking up on new ideas helps a lot.”
A South Dakota Soybean Quality Contest also runs concurrently with the yield contest; entry is optional, but a producer must enter the South Dakota Soybean Yield Contest in order to participate.
The analysis performed on the quality of beans grown across South Dakota provides growers with an additional benefit, according to Thompson.
“It helps everybody in the state when we go to sell beans on the international market and we have some actual field data for soybean oil and protein content,” said Thompson. “That makes a difference.”
The window to enter your field for the 2022 contest is now open. Entries can be submitted online or via USPS and are due with the appropriate fee by August 31. Contest rules, harvest forms and additional information are available online here.