For the third consecutive year, a participant in the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program Yield Challenge has exceeded 100 bushels per acre of harvested soybeans. Robert and Jason Lakey produced a 106.29-per-acre yield on their Champaign County 2.02 acre harvested plot in 2016. 

It is the second time the duo have achieved the independently verified 100-plus bushel-per-acre goal. In 2015, they won the 100-Bushel Challenge with 108.27 bushels of soybeans per acre.

“We cannot emphasize enough how important early planting is,” says Robert Lakey. “Our strategy has been to keep plants green so they can absorb the most sunlight. With that approach, we’ve been able to see our beans’ potential grow.  Our strategy was based on a 135,000 population on 20-inch rows with seed inoculation, followed by two types of fungicides to protect the crop. Fall fertilization and preemergence herbicide set the stage.”

"Every year we see more clearly what a difference this progressive thinking and technology exploration makes for soybeans in the Yield Challenge,” says John Longley, soybean farmer from Aledo, Ill., and ISA Production and Outreach Committee chair. “As we look ahead to 2017, we’re confident we’ll see more farmers reach 100-bushel yields and sustainably improve their soybean production through the continued exchange of innovative ideas and crop strategies.”

ISA established the Yield Challenge in 2010 as an incentive for growers to try better practices and new technologies to increase yield and to help build Illinois' position as a global leader in soybean production.  Farmers had three opportunities to win in the 2016 Yield Challenge:

  • 100-Bushel Contest – Growers achieving the greatest qualifying yield over 100 bushels per acre could take home the top prize of $5,000.
  • Crop District Shootout – While growers set their sights on 100 bushels, they also could compete in a second competition with other growers in their crop district for the top yield. First place will receive $500. Second place will receive $250. Winners will be recognized in all nine crop districts.
  • Side-by-Side Sponsor Plots – This contest rewards growers for testing innovative practices (Challenge Plot) against their regular practices (Standard Plot). The grower with the highest percentage yield increase in his or her district will receive $500. Second highest will receive $250.

Yield Challenge winners and top achievers will be recognized in Peoria, Ill., the evening of Feb. 15, during an event held ahead of the Soybean Summit at the Peoria Civic Center, Feb. 16.  Final winners will be made public soon and will be available on ilsoy.org.

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.