Arkansas researcher seeks to develop high-yielding soybeans

Yields of 80 bushels per acre attainable, doctoral student says

Ryan Van Roekel, a doctoral student at the University of Arkansas, is working to develop soybean yields that can average more than 80 pounds per bushel.

Van Roekel used test plots in eastern Arkansas and Fayetteville to try out his yield-enhancing methods. His research was funded by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.

Soybean producer Kip Cullers of southwest Missouri, who has won his state’s Soybean Association Yield contest several times since 2006, has produced contest yields of more than 100 bushels per acre. Van Roekel and his Ph.D. adviser, Professor Larry Purcell, have been cooperating with Cullers on the project.

The researchers have taken physiological measurements from Cullers’ farm in an attempt to understand the inner workings of Cullers’ top-yielding crop.

Van Roekel said early planting may be the most important consideration in increasing yields. The plant’s primary resource is carbohydrates from photosynthesis, which peaks in late June. Growers need to match maturity with planting dates and also choose a variety with the best package of traits to suit the growing environment, he said. Producers will have to cope with the variables of diseases, pests and weeks.

Van Roekel said 100 bushels per acre can be attained in Arkansas, but the costs could be so high that growers may not be able to make a profit or sustain the necessary conditions.