Bird’s eye view of big yielding beans

By Matt Reese

Louie Rehm's Wayne County soybeans averaged 118-bushels in this part of the field.

Dale Minyo and I got a bird’s eye harvest view of Louie Rehm’s bin busting soybean field in Wayne County via a helicopter ride just outside of Orrville.

I will confess that I did have some initial reservations about riding in the doorless circa 1970s helicopter used for sightseeing and aerial crop pesticide application. But, once in the air — despite the fact that only a ragged seatbelt separated me from a high speed plummet to Wayne County — I could not help but dangle myself out the side with my camera to capture some beautiful shots.

Ultimately, the helicopter was really fun, but only a periphery distraction from the story of the day — incredible soybean yields. Boosted by a new drainage system that held water in the tile lines throughout the dry summer, the combine’s yield monitor in the field held pretty tightly to 100 bushels through most of the field planted with Northrup King soybeans. There were a few low spots in the 30s and 40s, but the yield peaked at a whopping 156 bushels per acre. A two-acre weighed and certified yield check in the middle of the field averaged 118 bushels per acre. A neighboring field, without the benefit of the water holding drainage system, averaged 80 bushels.

“The rest of our beans are running in the high 40s or low 50s — nothing like this field,” Rehm said. “This spring we tiled the field and we decided we wanted to install the blocks to hold back the water. It really helped this year. Even in the drought this summer, the beans never wilted once because of the water they had in the soil where we blocked the tile. It was incredible. They just kept growing and growing. They held the water all summer. We dug a hole down one day and we had moisture 14 inches down. We had very minimal rain like everyone else and in these bottoms that moisture really paid off this summer. We planted these beans May 10 and from then on, they just kept growing.”

Louie Rehm's beans were heavily podded from top to bottom and nearly 60 inches tall.

The 30-acre field is tiled every 20 feet, with some of those lines tying into natural springs on the farm.

“There were old springs that kept the water up all summer for the soybeans. With this system you can hold the water back or let it go. The gates can be adjusted every six inches and you can set the level of water you want,” Rehm said. “You put the gates down to hold the water and pull them up to let it go. When you have yields like this, it pays big time.”

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  1. My compliments to Louie Rehm’s on his record 118 bu/a yield.

    Before my retirement from the USDA/ARS and OARDC in 2003, Dr. Norm Fausey, USDA/ARS Ag Engineer at Ohio Sate University in Columbus,and I, conducted several years of cooperative research at the OARDC at Wooster, OH, on subirrigation/drainage management, using drainage lines and control stands to maintain a constant water table.

    Results from this research indicated that when combined with solid seeding in 7-inch rows and lodging resistant semidwarf soybean
    varieties, 90 to 100 bu/a soybean yields were possible using this
    water table mangement system.

    If lodging of taller, comventional indeterminate varieties can be
    avoided (absence of a rain and wind storm that would flatten the
    taller plants), these high yields can also be obtained with
    conventional varieties. However, lodging can significantly lower the
    yield potential of these taller varieties.

    I believe another factor contributing to Rehm’s record yield this year was the early warm spring temperatures that resulted in the soybeans flowering (entering the reproductive period) much earlier in the growing season than normal, when the day length was longer and the light intensity is higher (i.e., more light energy available).

    Results from 18 years of soybean irrigated maximum yield research at
    OARDC indicated a strong positive correlation between average May
    temperature and the maximum yields obtained. The warmer the temperatures in May the earlier the onset of flowering and the higher the maximum yields obtained.

    Mr.Rhem’s record yields indicates the potential for well managed
    subirrigation/drainage systems to increase soybean yields in Ohio and
    the Midwest.


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  2. what maturity of soybeans did he use.are these beans roundup or conventional and did you use any fertilizer

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