EFFINGHAM, Ill. — Eddie Tackett regularly grows 100-bushel
soybeans. That would be quite an accomplishment anywhere.
But it may be even more so considering he doesn’t farm in
Illinois or Iowa, the nation’s biggest soybean-producing states.
Tackett’s farm is in central Arkansas, not even listed in
the top five soybean states. He has been successful partly because of geography,
but also because he works at coaxing big yields out of his crop.
Tackett shared some of his tactics with farmers gathered
here at the Illinois Soybean Summit.
“Things a farmer has to have are good soil, good seeds and
something you can’t control — good weather,” he said. “Another ingredient is
fertility. That’s something we can control.”
He has won the state yield contest a number of times. One
reason is his farm’s location near the city of Atkins, northwest of Little Rock
and in the middle of the Arkansas River Valley. Tackett’s high-yielding soybean
fields are irrigated.
“We’re very fortunate to have good soil here,” he
One of his fields that produce 100-plus bushels per acre is
packed with vital nutrients. It has 300 parts per million potash, 150 ppm
phosphorus, 146 ppm calcium and sufficient quantities of trace minerals,
including zinc and born.
“It also has to have good internal drainage and good surface
drainage,” Tackett said. “Without both of those, it is going to become
waterlogged and cut off oxygen.”
He listed seven key ingredients for achieving higher
“Some of them we can control, some of them we cannot,” he
Soil is No. 1, but farmers who have farms without rich soils
can increase their yields by a number of factors they can control. Among this is
seed selection, which Tackett listed as second-most important.
Many soybean farmers in Arkansas have switched to earlier
maturing varieties. While early group V and VI beans were the standard in the
1980s and even into the 1990s, that is changing.
“We have learned to start growing earlier maturing soybeans
here in the South,” Tackett said.
“Through (advice from) the University of Arkansas, farmers
started trying some of these southern Illinois and southern Missouri mid-group
IVs through later group IVs and seeing great success in a lot of areas and also
spreading out their harvest,” he said.
“We grow 25 percent of group IV soybeans on our farm. Mid-
to late-group IVs have really seemed to step up here in Arkansas over the last
“Sixty percent of soybeans grown in Arkansas are group IV.
Ten years ago, I would say, that number would have been 10 percent or less.
Things are shifting through Arkansas and the rest of the Mid-South.”
Tackett is a strong believer in seed treatments. He uses a
fungicide and insecticide package. In addition, he makes fungicide and
insecticide applications throughout the growing season.
Weed control is a challenge, especially in areas where
palmer amaranth — often called pigweed in the Mid-South — has virtually taken
over some fields.
“We’re battling the palmer pigweed,” Tackett said. “We went
into 2010 very satisfied with our weed control. In 2011, we weren’t as happy. In
2012-’13, it’s really been a battle. We have an uphill battle here. I’m hearing
the same from every farmer I talk to throughout Arkansas.
“We’re keeping it in check in a lot of our fields, but not
in every field. We’re having to spray post-emergence it seems like two times
over the top where we have not-so-good pre-emerge incorporation.”
Tackett puts a lot of emphasis on soil fertility. Because of
his farm’s location, natural fertilizer is widely available and
“We have access to poultry litter from turkeys or chickens,
and we use that,” he said. “It’s not the breadwinner or bank maker. But we feel
like we do get some benefit.
“We apply whenever we can get it. For example, we applied
last fall, and last week we were able to spread 300 tons.
“On another field, we applied 300 tons over 150-acre field.
The golden rule is two tons per acre.”