When Georgia farmers are recognized for producing high yield and low cost soybeans, Glenn Waller’s name is more often than not listed among the winners.

A farmer for 50 years, he grows soybeans, cotton, and beef cattle in Washington County, Ga. He’s not about to retire, but as a concession to his age he recently stopped renting a nearby dryland farm.

His overall 2011 soybean yields were good — 52 bushels per acre — but he says it was mainly due to cutting back on non-irrigated plantings. 

For the 2010 crop, Waller won both the state’s high yield and production efficiency awards. His high yield entry produced 66.94 bushels per are under irrigation, while the production efficiency winning entry recorded a dryland yield of 58.12 bushels per acre, grown at a cost of only $4.73 per bushel.

No single production practice makes him an efficient, high-yield grower. Rather, he points to several practices that combine to produce top per-acre production and low costs per bushel harvested.

“I try to bring the same intensive management to soybeans that other farmers devote to peanuts, cotton or tobacco,” he says.

He plants Roundup Ready varieties and selects them based on yield tests, including one conducted by Georgia Extension on his own farm.

For the 2011 Extension variety evaluation, he planted 25 varieties from Maturity Groups V, VI and VII, in both irrigated and dryland plots. The irrigated plots out-yielded the dryland plots by about 30 bushels per acre.

“Normally,” he says, “the better-yielding irrigated varieties are also the better-yielding dryland varieties.”

The best yields in his variety plots and in his larger soybean plantings are from Maturity Group V. The 10 Group V soybeans in his irrigated variety plots produced an average yield of 61 bushels per acre in 2011.

“I can harvest Group V varieties early and get my winter grazing planted,” he explains.

Root knot nematode resistance is a key trait he looks for in selecting varieties.

In 2010, he adapted his subsoiling strip-till planter and switched from 38-inch rows to 30-inch rows.

“The 30-inch rows produce a quick canopy that helps with weed control,” says Waller. “Closer rows also help the soil hold moisture. Subsoiling under the row is important because our land is naturally compacted.”