Rigdons rewarded for commitment with yield win
JARRETSVILLE, Md. — Father-son farming duo John and Harrison Rigdon scored a big win in the the Asgrow National Yield Contest with a 140.4 bushel per acre entry but they said reaching that level of production has been years in the making.
Variety selection, great weather and planting and application timing were big parts of the high yield but underlying all of it is a longstanding emphasis on maintaining and improving soil health.
“Soil health is so important,” John said. “You can’t wing it. You have to have your soil health in proper condition way before you drop the first seed in the ground. You can’t play catch up.”
For the Rigdons, cover crops, fall lime applications and soil sampling in the fall and again in spring if needed to monitor soil pH are some of the practices they said put them in a position to increase production.
The Rigdons planted the field where the 2019 contest entry came from on May 1 using Asgrow’s AG38X8 soybeans in 15-inch rows at a population of 150,000 seeds per acre.
“It’s a 3.8 bean, which in our area seems to work the best for us. In past years, we’ve had some excellent yields,” Harrison said, citing recent past contest entry yields above 130 bushels per acre.
They’ve also seen their farm averages increase in yield over the years but continually fight deer pressure that greatly impacts yields, especially on field edges.
“The deer population seems to be trending up all the time,” John said. “We just can’t get control of it.”
Harrison said seed bean size is also a factor they look at. A large bean seed often produces a large bean and “that’s where you make up a lot of yield,” along with pods per plant.
John Rigdon said variety selection is a big part of their yield results but timely planting is crucial too. He said they’ve found planting past May 15 costs them between a third of a bushel to half a bushel per acre per day in yield.
Routine scouting and tissue sampling through the season are also key component of keeping the crop healthy, John said.
“You’ve got to stay ahead of the game,” John said. “You’ve got to check your fields and your plants often.”
“Usually when you start seeing a deficiency you’ll already start to lose yield,” Harrison added.
They also named Susan Miller with DeKalb/Asgrow and Aaron Robey at The Mill with scouting help and product selection.
Pre-plant, the seed was treated with Acceleron and Optimize treatments and the ground had an application of 600 pounds per acre of potassium. In season, the entry had three fungicide applications at the V2, R4 and R7 growth stages.
Harrison said they may employ a third fungicide application on more of their soybean acres this year and also consider using a molasses-based product in an over-the-top application that acts as a natural insecticide and feeds soil microbes.
The preparation continues at Rigdon Farms and with improved production year over year recently, they’re optimistic going into this growing season.
“We’re going to hit 200 this year,” John said. “You’ve got to think big, right?”