October 29, 2017
By Debra Davis
From left are Nick, Randall and Matt McMichen and Tyler Bruce of McMichen Farm in Cherokee County. Matt, with the help of the others, won $10,000 from the Alabama Soybean Producers for exceeding 100 bushels of soybeans per acre.
Matt McMichen is only 13 years old, but he’s already making a name for himself in Alabama’s farming circles. He’ll soon have a $10,000-check from the Alabama Soybean Producers to boost that reputation.
A soybean crop planted on his family’s farm in Cherokee County near the Alexis community set an official state record when the harvest broke the 100-bushel per acre yield mark this fall. That record earned him the prize money from the soybean producers.
“I was so excited that I wanted to stay out of school when harvest time came,” said Matt, a eighth grader at Centre Middle School. “My mom would bring me to the field right after school so I could be there.”
The family farm began in 1842 and includes Matt; his father and mother, Nick and Freida; grandfather Randall McMichen; his sister, Mindy, and her fiancé, Tyler Bruce, who joined the operation in 2015.
The Alabama Soybean Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation, has sponsored the contest since 2015.
McMichen Farm hauled in a whopping 102.1530 bushels per acre - making it the first Alabama farm to officially break the 100-bushel mark.
The record yield was entered in Matt’s name, but Nick said it was a family effort and a blessing from the Lord.
“‘Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God will bless us,’” Nick said, quoting his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 67:7. “The Lord made the 100 bushels; we are merely his stewards.”
Matt and his family will be recognized at the Federation’s Commodity Organizational Meeting in February.
As for the prize money, Matt said he plans to use it to help the farm, including his own cattle herd he began in 2015.
The Federation’s Carla Hornady, director of the organization’s Soybean Division, said growers in other states had made 100-bushel yields, and Alabama farmers wanted to see their state gain such status.
“In 2015, our State Soybean Producers Committee decided to fund Extension specialists Mark Hall and Dennis Delaney’s proposal for the $10,000 100-bushel yield challenge as an incentive for our farmers to try different production practices to see if they could make higher yields,” Hornady said. “We congratulate the McMichens as our first winner.”
Hall said he was thrilled to have a 100-bushel winner after over 50 entries in the challenge since it began.
“While only one farm made the 100-bushel challenge, many entrants made record farm yields,” Hall said.
Alabama farmers planted an estimated 450,000 acres of soybeans this year, a 7-percent increase over last year’s 420,000 acres. State average yields for last year’s soybean crop were about 32 bushels per acre.
Nick also credits the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for helping develop the plan used to break the 100-bushel mark.
“We came close to the 100-bushel mark in the past, but I really worked close with the Alabama Extension agent and specialists to develop a production scheme to get me over the hump,” Nick said. “They advised me to plant earlier to have pod fill during the longest days of the year to take advantage of extra sunlight.”
The McMichens planted Pioneer 47T36 no-till soybeans in 30-inch rows at 140,000 seeds per acre on April 14. Ideal weather provided excellent emergence and a final stand count of 125,000 plants per acre, Nick said.
“We were blessed with rain this year, and the beans didn’t suffer for moisture,” he said. “I only irrigated four times, with .4 inches during each irrigation.”
Extension’s Delaney praised the McMichens’ efforts.
“This goes to show our farmers are just as capable of making high yields as growers anywhere,” Delaney said. “Alabama farmers have invested in research to increase yields and profitability through the Alabama Soybean Producers Committee and soybean check-off fund. Nick also has supported our efforts with cotton and soybean variety trials. I am glad to see his efforts pay dividends. The information we collect from on-farm trials like his are a great asset in helping Alabama growers make better decisions to increase crop profitability.”
Click here for a copy of the 2017 Soybean Yield Challenge rules.