Soybean 'rock star' breaks own record

by ‎10-13-2010 10:27 AM - edited ‎10-13-2010 11:31 AM

Picture1.jpgThe Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, reached about as high as he could this week to describe the show-me state’s star of soybean production, Kip Cullers, as he honored the farmer at a meeting this week for setting a new yield record—160.6 bu/ac. Standing atop a wagon in a field, Nixon called Cullers a great Missourian, a “real” role model and a world leader for his efforts to keep pushing the envelope in bean production.


If this were California, the governor would be touting a movie star or Silicon Valley entrepreneur in such terms. In Missouri, state government and ag leaders are plenty proud of what one farmer has done to make agronomy sexy.


The aw-shucks farmer from Purdy, Missouri, has plenty of show biz about him, though. He took the stage, looking like a NASCAR driver in logo wear and bantered with the governor a bit, posing for pictures. Then he allowed that he was disappointed in his yields this year, having hoped for something in the range of 170 or 180 bushels.


Next he dove into some of the details of what he did differently this year to get the new record. (Check out the last five or six minutes of this YouTube video for some his specific strategies.)


 “This year we had two goals,” Cullers said. “One thing was to control our 'highs,' and another was to stop white mold."


He cited a number of  products, including Optimize, a seed-applied growth promotant, as well as the biological fungicide Contans. “ We shortened up these plants” and controlled the white mold, he said.


Cullers’ management tactics put a lot of emphasis on root development. “It’s more important what’s below the ground than what’s above,” he said. And, he pushes the plants to stay green. “Soybeans should never die, until frost,” he says. “The only reason soybeans die is because of stress.”


Cullers probably can be questioned about the wider applicability of his intensive test-plot practices. But, his ideas clearly have excited a lot of people in agriculture who see soybeans as an under-managed crop with a big upside.


This 2008 story on details some of his main principles for pushing soybean yields to record-breaking levels:


Six steps to better soybean yields