Story by Mary Hightower
Two weeks after a Dumas soybean farmer’s yields were verified to be the first in Arkansas to break the 100-bushel-per-acre barrier, a McGehee farming family has shattered the mark with 107.63 bushels per acre.
Matt and Sherri Kay Miles’ yield was verified Friday by an all-extension service team of Wes Kirkpatrick, Desha County extension staff Chair; Les Walz, Cleveland County extension staff chair; and James Mahan, Arkansas County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“It was emotional,” Matt Miles said on Friday. “It was on land I purchased from my father-in-law and has been in the family for three generations or more. It was cool that it happened on that land.”
Miles was humble about the achievement. “I thank the good Lord and all the people that support me,” he said. “I don’t want to take credit for it.”
After Nelson Crow’s yield was verified Aug. 30, Kirkpatrick said he had a feeling there were more fields with big numbers waiting to be cut.
“I’m not really surprised. When we were at the field watching the grain go into the combine and then going from the combine in to the grain trailer … we were pretty sure we were going to hit it,” he said Friday.
Then came the weigh-in at an elevator at Jerome.
“Everyone was on pins and needles at the elevator,” Kirkpatrick said. “Matt called every 15 minutes wondering what it was. He was so nervous. He couldn’t stand it.”
Miles had to stay at the farm to finish cutting fields.
Kirkpatrick said the tension grew because there was an hour-long wait while the elevator made room for Miles’ grain. And after Miles got the call, Kirkpatrick said Miles called him to make sure no one was pulling his leg.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “You look at the statewide average in the last 10 years and we’ve made less than a bushel gain each year. And you look at this field, and it broke the 100-bushel mark by more than seven bushels. This is pretty phenomenal.”
The Miles family used Asgrow 4632, “a high-yielding variety that does well in Arkansas,” he said. The variety is in the 4.6 maturity group, more in line with what is typically grown in Arkansas. The Pioneer 93Y92 that Nelson Crow grew for his landmark yield was a quick-growing 3.9 maturity group, unusual in the Mid-South.
“We’ve seen some fields that came really close to the 100-bushel mark,” Ross said. “In the last week, we’ve had fields that were mid-80s to the mid-90s. We even saw a dryland field that went 89 bushels.”
Dryland means the field was not irrigated.
The Miles’ field was among those entered in the Race for 100, a program with a $50,000 incentive for Arkansas soybean farmers to break the 100-bushel per acre yield mark. The prize money is to be divided among the growers who made the goal. The Race for 100 was implemented about five years ago when the Arkansas Soybean Association asked the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board to fund an incentive program that has become the Race for 100, said Lanny Ashlock, a former extension soybean agronomist, who is now a project manager for the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
By Mary Hightower
Cooperative Extension Service
U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture