Soybean School: Maximizing yield with planting date and variety maturity

PRIDE SEEDS market agronomist Matt Chapple.

The PRIDE Seeds Education Centre is into its second year, and Matt Chapple, agronomist with PRIDE Seeds, says it’s like his sandbox — where the company can do studies and demonstrations, look at different genetics, or trial different practices that can improve yields.

In this Soybean School episode, Bernard Tobin joins Chapple in his “sandbox” to take a closer look at maximizing yield potential by variety choice and planting date.

Soybeans were planted at an ultra-early, an average, and a late planting date to determine how growing length would affect yield potential, and how different maturity ratings would respond.

Chapple notes the ultra-early seeded, 2.8 maturity soybeans (April 7) sat under some snow before they emerged, and might have had frost scares early in their growth, but he sees a lot of branching and pod-set right at the bottom of the stem, at the first node.

“On average, this bean has 68 pods per plant, so tight inter-nodes, it looks like we’ve kind of mitigated a lot of stress through the season, and down low, I think we can see nice pod set of often three seeds per pod,” says Chapple.

See the full video for more of Chapple’s insights, story continues below video:

For the average planting date (May 19), there’s a noticeable difference in plant height but as Chapple comments “we made some straw, is what I’ll say.” Pod-set happens three to four nodes up the plant, in this case, and the taller, more showy plant will average 55 pods per plant, he says.

Chapple figures that the late-planted soybean (June 9) were planted into dry conditions, like much of southern Ontario, and that the soybean would’ve been forced into flowering before they gained a lot of height.

“As we get into the third, fourth node, we have pod-set, but we have a higher percentage of these aborted [pods] and we have a lot slower development, more flat pods, and more one to two bean pods at these lower nodes,” says Chapple.

There are a lot of similarities in the effects of planting date on the 2.0 maturity soybeans — higher pod counts, low pod-set on the plant, but maybe giving up on the opportunity for later flowers in the soybeans that were planted at the ultra-early planting date.

Chapple’s take-home message? “When we look at that 2.8 versus 2.0 maturity bean, think about optimizing and really pushing your maturity group soybeans to their maximum pod count, maximum seeds per plant, when planting early and when planting in that mid planting date. When we get into that June time-frame, later in the growing season, it really warrants a dropping in maturity.”