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“I did not want to enter as it was the first time that I planted soybeans. However, my seed agent convinced me. I did not know anything initially but I learnt as I proceeded,” says Elize Schutte of Klipdrift, Potchefstroom.
With her first time soybean growing Elize also became the first woman to win a section of the PIONEER® Weigh and Win competition. She attained the highest soybean yield under irrigation with a whopping 5,8408 tons/hectare (planting the PIONEER® cultivar P64T39R.)
Elize became a fulltime farmer after the demise of her husband six years ago, coinciding with her retirement from the NorthWest University where she had been involved with computer system development. She has 98 ha under irrigation and hopes to extent her farming activities. “I have many plans in my head!”
Elize ascribes her high yield to the fact that she minded the advice of the experts; that rain fell when it was needed; and that all plans, finally, came together beautifully. She intends continuing with soybeans as rotation crop with maize and will now move her soybean growing to a next field.
A challenge waiting this season is to change from a system of disc cultivation and seedbed preparation to total no-till system. Her advice to new farmers is to remain positive and to take heed of how those experienced guys around you go about it.
Win and Weigh 2018
The drought limited participation in this year’s yield competition. However, those who still saw their way open to enter, attained good yields. At the gala prize-giving ceremony Tony Esmeraldo of Corteva AgriscienceTM (this is the name of the group of companies of which PIONEER®, PANNAR® and Dow AgroSciences form part) said they understood that, for the farmer, it was a matter of profit per hectare.
With the amalgamation of international agricultural companies, access to seed technology for local farmers expanded dramatically. Tony said they would continue investing South Africa as long as farmers remained positive and kept up their thirst for problem solving.
Recently R100 million was invested in a research station at Delmas and R60 million in a seed production unit in Rosslyn.
South African farmers will be able to continue buying PIONEER® or PANNAR® seed in spite of any international business house changes.
Heinz Oellermann, PIONEER® business manager, gave farmers the assurance that PIONEER® would continue with research on farms to find the best solutions for local conditions. Seed specialists are there to assist farmers in planting the correct product on the correct hectares and to recommend the best crop management practices for those fields.
More and more farmers are adopting the idea of bulk seed purchases and make use of the convenient PIONEER® PROBOX™ seed handling system by means of which treated seed is delivered on the farm at short notice.
Corné Louw, Grain SA’s senior economist, says yield competitions embrace much more than rewarding someone for the highest yield; the idea of it is that farmers must learn from each other.
Lucas Groenewald, John Deere’s regional sales head, wished all the farmers a “green” future. He said it was John Deer’s wish that farmers would ensure top yields by means of the best performance of John Deere products by limiting standing time to the minimum and by having the smallest possible financial impact.
Ben Schoonwinkel of Syngenta referred farmers to the various financial options and products offered by Syngenta as part of its crop protection plan such as buying through the year and paying in August (with a most favourable interest rate). He says Syngenta is fired up for the coming year.
And the winners are . . .
Zirk Scheepers of Cradock achieved the highest yield for maize under irrigation: 20,72 t/ha. Zirk says he is more of a sheep farmer but he enjoys planting maize and nursing the plants. In a close second position was Jaco Cilliers of Douglas with 19,71 t/ha, followed by Francois Hoffman of Delmas with 18,1555 t/ha.
With dry land maize the KZN growers Mark Stein, Bruce Shepherd and Ross Braithwaite, as well as Gerlu and Heinrich, the Roos Brothers of Wonderfontein in the Eastern Region, really made a go of it with yields of more than 14 t/ha. Mark Stein obtained a yield of 15,4 t/ha and Gerlu Roos 15,373 t/ha. In the Western Region Dawie Marais gained 10,3 t/ha and in the Eastern Free State Gerrie Claasen was the winner with 13,533 t/ha. In the Central Region Bernard Rabe’s yield was 11,744 t/ha.
Elize Schutte was the winner in the section for soybeans under irrigation with a yield of 5,8408 t/ha.
Gareth and Michael Allen of Middelburg fared extremely well with their dryland soybeans with yields of 5,0483 and 4,8772 t/ha. In the Western Region Heinrich Fouché of Potchefstroom won with 4,67 t/ha; in the Eastern Freestate Josef van Eeden with 4,2003 t/ha and in the Central Region Barry van Wyk with 4,4178 t/ha.
In the sunflower section Gerhard Knoetze of Wolmaransstad took the honours with his 3,3727 t/ha yield.
Fochville made its mark with a group of farmers who kind of take turns to win the prizes for maize and soybeans in the Central Region. When asked if there was something special in Fochville’s water or soil which makes them winners Bernard Rabe (11,7440 t/ha maize) and (3,84 t/ha soybeans) jokingly said: “We only win because we enter!”
Armand de Villiers (11,0629 t/ha maize and 3,7262 t/ha soy) was more serious. He says it meant a lot for their local study group that the members participate as it gives them opportunity to take notice of cultivating practices and share with each other when measuring results.
And that is exactly the aim of yield competitions: To learn from each other.