Soybean School: Do later-maturing soybeans deliver the highest yields?

Variety choice and planting dates are two key factors that drive soybean yield.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, host Bernard Tobin asks whether later-maturing soy varieties are required for the highest yields and whether growers should plant soybeans before corn. For some answers, Tobin is joined by Michigan State University soybean educator Mike Staton and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soybean specialist Horst Bohner. They both addressed these questions during their presentation at the Ontario Agricultural Conference earlier this month at Ridgetown, Ont.

After looking at long-term Michigan data, Staton says growers who plant the best yielding, adapted varieties for a maturity group in mid-May, should expect top yields. If growers want to plant earlier, however, full-season beans have an opportunity to shine and produce higher yields, but there are risks, including late-season frost and immaturity. The risk-reward analysis indicates a couple of bushel increase. Growers need to decide if that’s worth it, says Staton.

Both Bohner and Staton also reviewed the latest data from planting research on whether growers should plant corn or soybeans first when they hit the field in the spring.

“So far the data is pretty clear that both corn and soybeans do well planted early,” says Bohner. “I think it depends on whether or not you’re worried about plant stands and other factors. But from a yield perspective, it’s working pretty well… until we have that big frost.”

Research out of Michigan indicates a 2.3 bu/ac advantage for early-planted soybeans. “It includes some really ultra early planting, maybe even as early as late March and first week of April, says Staton. He notes that one research location did see a loss of 6.5 bu/ac., but that was just one out of more than 20 locations, and overall, the story has been very positive. “I think Horst and I agree that agronomically, planting date is one of the biggest things that we can do to manage our yield potential.”

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