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Extension Soybean Specialist
HQ Phone:  (919) 515-2011
Direct Phone: (919) ***-****
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Campus Box 8111
Raleigh, North Carolina,27695
The mission of North Carolina State University is to serve its students and the people of North Carolina as a doctoral/research-extensive, land-grant university. Through the active integration of teaching, research, extension, and engagement, North Carolina St... more.
Timeliness critical for achieving top soybean yields
Jim Dunphy, Extension soybean specialist at North Carolina State University, is optimistic the state will soon reach that magic number.
"We haven't documented 100 bushels in North Carolina but soybean producers are working to get there," Dunphy said. "The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association has an offer out of $2,500 to the first guy who goes over 100 bushels. If he's a member of the American Soybean Association when he plants the field, they'll double it to $5,000." Dunphy said North Carolina has gotten close to producing 100 bushels per acre. The record was set in 2006 by the McLain Farm (Mike, his brother Phil, and Phil's son Phillip) in Iredell County which recorded a yield of 92.9 bushels per acre. "Nobody has bested that yet," Dunphy said. Jim Dunphy Using check-off funds from the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, Dunphy will do a maximum yield study this year where he and Ron Heiniger, professor of crop science and cropping systems specialist at N.C. State, will see how high a dry-land yield they can achieve at various locations across the state. "I don't know how high a yield we'll get, but I expect it to be easier to achieve with some varieties than with others," Dunphy said. While varietal selection is certainly important to achieve maximum yields, timeliness may actually be a more important factor. For example, Dunphy said it is critical to plant soybeans on time. "I'd want to plant early enough to be sure I get the middles lapped with 3-feet tall plants, to capture as much sunlight as soybeans know how to capture," Dunphy explained. "What that date turns out to be depends somewhat on the maturity of the variety used, since later maturing varieties have more days to get that big. I'd a little prefer to see the reproductive growth occur earlier than later, but not at the expense of having too small plants." Timeliness and attention to detail are also critical when managing weeds, insects and diseases, Dunphy stressed. "If you go out on Monday morning and you find you have some little weeds coming up, you're going to have to spray them this week, not next week. Get them sprayed on time, when they are still little. Don't wait until Friday to spray; you need to spray on Tuesday or better yet Monday afternoon." If the soybean crop doesn't find enough nutrients left over from the previous crop, be it corn, cotton or wheat, farmers should add phosphorous and potash directly to the soybeans to achieve top yields, Dunphy said. "Very high yielding soybeans will require more fertility than average-yielding soybeans. That may or not be the key to getting the big yields, but if I don't have a high enough fertility level, I certainly won't achieve top yields." "Achieving 60 bushel yields takes about 48 pounds of phosphorous per acre, while achieving 100 bushel yields takes about 82 pounds of phosphorous," Dunphy said. "How do I make more money?" Farmers who grow soybeans in the livestock producing counties, where they apply manure to the fields, may not need as much phosphorous, but they likely will need to add more potash if they wish to achieve maximum yields, according to Dunphy. "This is particularly true in the Coastal Plains where the soils don't hold their nutrients as well," Dunphy said. "To achieve 100 bushel yields, I need about 135 pounds of potash." As for minor nutrients, such as zinc, boron and manganese, Dunphy said soil test recommendations are probably the best guide. "You'll probably need a little more than the soil test is actually recommending to achieve maximum yields," Dunphy said. Through it all, Dunphy said farmers must continually ask the question, "How do I make more money?" "Only three things are going to contribute to profit," he said. "The yield, the price of soybeans and the cost of production. Yields by far are the most important key to making more money." As an individual, a farmer can't do much about prices, Dunphy said. "He can influence when he sells them and at what price he sells them, In a typical marketing year, the price of soybeans will vary by at least $2 per bushel, and maybe $3. He can take advantage of that $2 to $3 gain, but he can't determine if prices range from $13 to $16 or $9 to $12," he said. As for lowering production costs, Dunphy said that is easier said than done. Dunphy believes North Carolina will reach the 100 bushel mark, and if farmers focus on achieving top yields, they can get close to the goal. "We'll get there. Somebody will do it. We've probably already been there, but somebody just hasn't documented it," Dunphy said.
Jim Dunphy, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Jim Dunphy, Extension Soybean Specialist, North Carolina State University, details the challenges faced by many growers along the coastline in these videos.
He anticipates a bigger weed problem for 2017 since floodwaters could have transported new weed seeds and other contaminants into the affected areas.
Jim Dunphy calls last year's study on maximizing dryland soybean yields "the Cadillac Treatment" because he took steps to achieve as high a yielding situation as possible.
"The first thing we did was go to a variety that does well in a high yielding environment," Dunphy said at the North Carolina Commodities Conference in Durham Jan. 15, where he released the results of the test. Dunphy is the North Carolina State University Extension soybean specialist. For the study, Dunphy selected the two highest yielding Group V varieties and the two highest yielding Group VI varieties, varieties that perform well in a 60 bushel per acre yield environment. The varieties he planted in 2015 were Southern States' SS 5511 N R2, Dyna-Gro's 32RY55, UniSouth Genetics' USG 76S 73R and Syngenta's S76-R6. The goal was to plant the four varieties from as early as mid-April to as late as mid-May, but Dunphy said, "the weatherman didn't let us do that. We planted one of them in early May; we planted two of them in late May and one of them the first day in June." Dunphy said the varieties were planted in 15 inch rows at relatively low population rates, 90,000 to 120,000 seeds per acre. "That was on purpose," he said. Potassium was also applied because Dunphy explains that potassium is needed for the soybean plants to better utilize nitrogen. Fungicides were also used. His "Cadillac" yields ended up being 54 bushels per acre in Beaufort County, 52.5 bushels per acre in Pender County, 53.3 bushels per acre in Sampson County and 79.5 bushels per acre in Surry County. Dunphy said an important lesson learned was the importance of fungicides. The three he used were Topguard, Quadris Top and Priaxor. Looking at all four sites, Dunphy said the research shows that fungicides are worth the money spent. "When we put all four sites together, we got a response to fungicides," he said. "None of those three gave us a significant response at all four locations; neither did any of them fail." Dunphy stressed that fungicide timing is critical. And that has always been a challenge.