Renewable Farming

“This was the first year all our soybean yields were in the 60s and 70s”

That 60 to 70+ bu. range of yields included the soybeans in these photos, where Hal and Ty Brown of Mulberry, Indiana planted into standing green cereal rye, then roller-crimped it. They harvested beans earlier this week. The field shown here yielded 65 bu. per acre of seed beans for Beck’s Hybrids.

October 14, 2020 — Last spring, Hal Brown sent us the first photo below, showing his roller-crimper flattening cereal rye on May 31. Beans had been planted into standing rye a day earlier. Hal told us last spring, “We’re rookies at crimping rye, so we’ll see what happens.”

As a test, a 15-acre patch of one rye field was not crimped. Yield in the uncrimped 15 acres was the same as where rye was flattened. 

These are Beck’s Hybrids GMO seed beans. The Beck’s contract specified a foliar herbicide to take out any non-GMO rogue beans and keep the genetic line uniform. (The herbicide thus killed the uncrimped rye.)

The beans which Hal planted had been raised in South America, and didn’t arrive at the farm until late May. The Browns’ Windy Lane Farms has been a Beck’s seed grower and dealer for over 30 years.

You can follow the season for these fields in the photos below. The soybean variety in these pictures ranged into the 60s. “Our lowest-yielding field planted into rye made 61 bu.,” says Hal. “This summer we were below our average amount of rainfall. Soybeans endured some stress on our slopes.”

Upper-end beans on the farm, outside of the crimped fields, yielded “76 and 77 bu. on several acres,” Hal says.

When we sent Hal this article for fact checking, he e-mailed back a note: “We just have to keep trying new things and hopefully stumble onto something during the journey.”

Crimping cereal rye on May 31. Hal is a longtime advocate of cover crops, which he calls his “third crop.” Covers enhance soil health, build active humus and increase moisture-holding capacity.


You can see soybean cotyledons
peeking through the crimped rye.

Beans in early growth stage have shaded out most weeds, which are also suppressed by the thatch of dead rye. A little volunteer corn was taken out with a weedkiller (these beans are herbicide-tolerant genetics).

Photo just before harvest this week shows 

beans standing well. Yield was in the mid-60s.