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Close-watched soybean reaps award
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Close-watched soybean reaps award

SPARTA, Wis. – When Mike Wegner tries a new variety or hybrid he watches it like a hawk. That means he plants it right along his farmstead’s driveway.

In 2019 he liked what he saw. The soybean variety produced a good crop – yielding 75.63 bushels per acre, earning him first place in Division 2 of the Wisconsin Soybean Association and Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board’s Soybean Yield Contest. It was the first time the Sparta-area grower had ever entered the contest.

Mike Wegner and his father, Dean Wegner, farm about 1,900 acres. They own about 400 acres and lease another 1,500 acres. They and Mike Wegner’s stepson, Nick Wolf, provide custom-farming services on another 2,000 acres within a 15-mile radius of Sparta.

The Wegners have their own drying and storage facilities. They can dry as much as 1,000 bushels per hour and store as much as 175,000 bushels. Excess grain is stored at a local cooperative and in rented bins.

“We weren’t intending on entering the yield contest, but our seed dealer suggested it,” Mike Wegner said.

Jarred Huber, owner of MaxxYield Ag LLC of Viroqua, Wisconsin, has been helping the Wegners with their seed selection the past couple of years.

“I suggested they try Pioneer P23A15X because it had been winning about 90 percent of the test plots throughout western Wisconsin,” Huber said.

The maturity-group 2.3 soybean has excellent yield potential as well as tolerances to white mold and sudden death syndrome. It was producing between 60 and 70 bushels per acre in test plots in western Wisconsin, he said.

“Mike is very thorough and doesn’t just jump into a new variety or hybrid,” he said. “He plants new selections on his farm.”

Wegner planted the winning soybeans May 5 in a no-till field. He planted the seed in 30-inch rows in silt-clay loam.

“It’s a pretty heavy soil,” Wegner said.

Despite a wet growing season the Wegners averaged 200-bushels-per-acre for corn and more than 50-bushels-per-acre for soybeans across their operations. They planted six different corn hybrids and five soybean varieties. The corn hybrids ranged in relative maturity from 90 to 103 days.

The Wegners grow crops in many different soils as well as near wooded areas and on open land. They generally grow two years of corn followed by a year of soybeans. And they use minimum-till and no-till practices.

“No-till has especially helped given all of the rain we’ve had,” Mike Wegner said.

He harvested the soybean contest plot Oct. 17 and finished harvesting all the 2019 crops Dec. 18.

“It was cold and wet here last fall; normally we’d have all our harvesting done by Thanksgiving,” Wegner said. “This year it was three weeks late.”

The annual yield contest was developed to encourage development of management practices that highlight the importance of using sound cultural practices. Two winners are selected from each of four geographical divisions in the state. The divisions are based on long-term county soybean-yield averages. Contest entries must be at least 5 continuous acres of one variety.

Visit or call 608-800-7056 for more information. 

Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.

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