For the second time in three years, Jimmy Frederick has set a new world record for rain-fed soybeans, producing 148.8 bushels per acre over a 5-acre area on his Rulo, Nebraska, farm. This tops his own mark of 138 bushels per acre set in 2018 in the very same field.
Supported by root systems resembling those of "baby trees," Frederick described a typical plant as being waist high, with five to seven lateral branches, and producing 450 to 500 pods.
To achieve such a feat, you would think everything had to go perfect. But for Frederick, who farms 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans across terraces, hills and bottom ground in the southwest corner of Nebraska, that was anything but the case.
Just after he planted his AgriGold 3520 soybeans on April 21, 50 mph winds blew across his field and helped form a heavy crust on top of the soil. It took nearly three weeks for the plants to emerge.
"I planted deeper than usual, at 2 inches, and after two weeks I thought that might not have been the way to go," laughed Frederick. "I almost ripped it up and started over."
But when the plants did emerge, they shot up uniformly and maintained strong vigor, aided by a biological seed treatment package from Biovante that included BioCore and Invade 5G seed inoculants. Once plants reached the V5 stage, they showed excellent plant health with a near perfect stand count. That's when he first realized it could be a special year.
While Frederick said his record yield was achieved at 70,000 seeds per acre, most of the field was planted at far lower rates. The entire 204-acre field averaged better than 90 bushels per acre.
"We're getting more air and sunlight to our plants, creating healthier plants, lots of branching and way fewer pod abortions," noted Frederick. "Plus, we've eliminated all the yellowing on the bottom leaves. We now have 4-bean pods on the top and bottom branches."
Seed population isn't the only thing that Frederick has lowered. He's not used a dry fertilizer product for five years and also dramatically slashed fertilizer and other input costs. His focus is on improving both the health of his soil and the strength of his plants.