It’s safe to say South Dakota farmers have cracked the code to grow 100 bushel per acre soybeans.

The four best yields in the South Dakota Soybean Association yield contest broke 100 bushels.

“That’s really incredible, the yields these guys are getting here in South Dakota,” said Matt Bainbridge, a member of the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council board who farms with his dad and brother near Ethan, S.D.

South Dakota Soybean announced yield contest winners at the association’s annual banquet Dec. 7 in Sioux Falls.

Hudson, S.D., farmer Scott McKee took the top prize for the third successive year. He was the first contestant to break 100-bushel yields in 2014. His top field this year yielded 110.85 bushels per acre, another record.

This time, McKee’s son got to share in the honors. Zachary McKee, 17, placed second with a yield of 109.26 bpa.

The junior at West Sioux High School in Hawarden, Iowa, had planned to get a summer job but instead opted to help Dad on the farm. He got a taste of day-to-day farming. “I think it kind of opened his eyes to what I do during the day,” his dad said.

The younger McKee took his dad’s expert advice on what to plant and how to care for the winning fields. Scott McKee said he was eager to see how Asgrow beans stood up to his usual Pioneer variety. In the Group 2 maturity contest, the father-son pair each entered a different brand. Scott McKee won with Asgrow variety AG2733, and his son planted Pioneer’s P25T51R.

“They’re both outstanding beans,” the elder McKee said.

This year, four contest fields broke the 100-bushel mark. The third best yield of 104.83 bpa came from Tim Hofer in Hutchinson County with a Legend Seed variety, 27R542N.

McKee uses three fields on his farm along the South Dakota-Iowa border for corn and soybean yield contests. They get special care, and it shows when comparing yields to those on his other land, he said.

McKee was looking forward to the next growing season as the December cold set in. His fields were tilled, and he was having soil samples taken to see where he sits for nutrient levels.

Part of McKee’s winning prize is a trip to the Commodity Classic in San Antonio. He said he’s looking forward to learning about the latest tools for farmers, especially the new dicamba-tolerant Xtend soybeans. He expects they’ll be a benefit for fields with heavy weed infestations, but where fields are already clean, it won’t make sense to spend the extra money on the new variety.

McKee also is making plans to boost his corn yields. This year, he split fertilizer applications, doing one at planting and another when the corn was about knee high. He’d like to add a third shot at tasseling time. “I think that would put me over the 300 mark then,” he said.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association will announce yield contest winners at its annual meeting Jan. 21 in Sioux Falls. After two years of winning the corn yield contest, McKee placed second last season at 288.31 bpa.

South Dakota Soybean shares tips gathered from yield contests in a winter seminar series. The Soybean Success Seminars are scheduled for January and February.

Bainbridge said yield contests are an important learning tool: “I think we gather a lot of really great agronomic information about what the best farmers are doing to get the very best yields.”

The seminar schedule follows:

Monday, Jan. 30 – Aberdeen: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dakota Events Center, 720 Lamont St. S., with featured speaker Al Kluis, broker and trader with Kluis Commodities.

Tuesday, Jan. 31 – Watertown: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Events Center, 1901 Ninth Ave. SW, with featured speaker Kluis.

Wednesday, Feb. 1 – Mitchell: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Highland Conference Center, 2000 Highland Way, with featured speaker Dr. S. Elwynn Taylor, agricultural meteorologist.

Thursday, Feb. 2 – Sioux Falls: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Best Western Ramkota, 2200 W. Maple St. with Taylor as featured speaker.

Reach reporter Janelle Atyeo at 605-335-7300, email jatyeo@tristateneighbor.com, or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor.

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