8 Tips To Higher Yields In Soybeans

Experts at Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, say developing a management plan throughout the crop cycle is key to increasing yields for soybeans. Variety selection, seed treatment and scouting are all important factors in boosting yields, and as the growing season progresses there are actions growers can take to maximize yields.

“With soybeans, it’s about trying something different when it comes to crop management,” says Ryan Clayton, Pioneer agronomist in southwest Iowa. “Soybeans can respond well to management and become an even more prosperous crop on growers’ operations.”

Managing soybeans from beginning, seed selection, through harvest is essential. Here are 10 tips on mananging the crop:

1. Scouting. Once a soybean crop is in the ground, weed control and pest and disease scouting is top priority. Scouting once a week until flowering, then scouting twice a week through the intense disease and insect time frames is ideal.

“In certain regions, particularly in the South, scouting takes on a high priority quickly in the growing season,” says Hughes. “Once a bean hits the R3 stage, a foliar fungicide application is typical. Diseases like frogeye leaf spot and others are easily controlled with a fungicide and have demonstrated a return on investment. Insects, including various worms and stink bugs, can cause significant yield loss and damage seed quality. They must be controlled in a timely manner.”

2. Fertility and pH Management. Many soybean producers depend on residual corn fertility to supply nutrients to their soybean crop. When soils are routinely maintained at high or very high levels of phosphorous (P) and potassium (K), this may be a safe strategy, but often it is not. Some Extension soil fertility specialists have indicated soil test levels of P and K in their states often are not adequate for optimum soybean yields.

Soybean growers also should be aware of their soil pH. A soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is considered ideal for soybean production. Liming acid soils or utilizing varieties with good iron deficiency chlorosis scores on high pH soils will help prevent yield reduction.

Soybeans are also high in protein and therefore in nitrogen. Soybeans remove about 4 pounds of nitrogen from the soil for each bushel of grain produced. This compares to less than a pound of nitrogen removed per bushel of corn grain produced. The soybean plant’s nitrogen needs usually are supplied by nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria associated with its roots, so adding nitrogen fertilizer usually is unnecessary under normal production practices.

“The importance of obtaining adequate nodulation can’t be overemphasized. Always use an inoculant when planting into a field that has not been in soybeans for the past two to three years,” says Mike Hughes, Pioneer agronomy research manager. “Failure to achieve adequate nodulation could require supplemental nitrogen in-season to maintain yield.”

In studies, foliar feeding increased yields only 15 percent to 20 percent of the time. However, it may be useful when soil nutrients are inadequately supplied, such as production on sandy soils or high-yielding irrigated fields.

“Fertilizer is a bit of a wild card,” explains Clayton. “Within the industry, data has been mixed as to whether fertilizing boosts yields. It is, however, always an option to explore.”

3. Weed Control. Weed control also is an important factor in producing high-yielding soybeans. Controlling weeds early allows growers to plant into cleaner, warmer seedbeds for improved stand establishment. DuPontTM Enlite® and EnviveTM herbicides, feature two modes of action that will provide growers with longer-lasting, more consistent early season control of weeds which allows them to apply their postemergence application closer to crop canopy.

“Delaying weed control or using only a glyphosate application could reduce potential yields,” says Clayton. “Weeds rob soybean plants of important pod-producing nutrients and sunlight. A two-pass program is recommended.”

4. Irrigation. Other important growing season factors include drainage and irrigation. Fields with poor drainage or standing water for extended periods of time reduces yields. Irrigation, if available, should be used in a timely manner.

“Waiting too long to irrigate can set soybeans back,” says Hughes. If a dry spell occurs, and the plant wilts during the day, the bean is set back and may never catch up. Additionally, if it takes a long period of time to make a pass with an irrigation pivot, the beans on the end are going to be stressed, once again reducing yield.

“On the flip side, growers can cut back irrigation too soon as well. Though weather dependant, expect to maintain an irrigation schedule through the R7 stage.”

5. Harvesting. Soybeans should be harvested based on pod maturity and not leaf drop to avoid waiting too long and shattering.

“If a grower is in an area where drydown is slow, a desiccant can be applied to speed up that process,” says Hughes. “Sometimes it costs more to wait for the bean to drydown, losing yields, than to take some dockage at the elevator for moisture.”

6. Variety Selection. Other key factors to raising high-yielding soybeans is choosing the right variety, selecting for relative maturity, key environment and traits. Though growers will be selecting products for next year at a later time, keeping an eye on performance of this year’s crop can provide guidance.

“It’s important to select the right variety for specific fields,” says Hughes. “It’s not about picking the highest-yielding variety in a trial or choosing a variety that yielded well for a neighbor; it’s about choosing a variety on a field-by-field basis that will perform well in a particular environment based on specific soil conditions and insect and disease pressures – putting the right product on the right acre.”

7. Timing. Planting date is important. Earlier planting allows for more days of flowering, increasing the number of pods or seeds.

“Planting early allows the bean plant to take advantage of longer days for optimum flowering,” says Clayton. “Increasing the days of flowering allows for more pods which boosts yields.”

8. Seed Treatments. Seed treatments also have become increasingly popular, providing growers added protection. This type of protection offers yield stability. Growers not using seed treatments should boost planting rates by 10 percent to 15 percent.

“Several quality fungicide and insecticide seed treatments are available and should be considered,” says Hughes. “Seed treatments help provide protection for early diseases and pests when planting into cooler and wetter soils.”

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience, Northstar Agri Industries Launch New Canola Hybrid
October 16, 2013
Northstar Agri Industries and Bayer CropScience have announced the addition of the InVigor L252 hybrid to the Northstar Star Growers High Oil Contract. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More
CropLife 10013 Key Acquisitions Pinnacle Has Made In The First Half Of 2014
May 29, 2014
The only thing that has reached a more frenzied pace than #plant14 might be the multiple acquisitions that Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has made in the first half of the year. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Resumes Production At Oklahoma Nitrogen C…
July 17, 2014
The company had shut down production at the Woodward, OK, facility in April to address an issue in one of the site’s boilers. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denve…
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybe…
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Drive To Thrive 10 Finalists Announced
July 15, 2014
Finalists are chosen based on the quality of their essays and photos depicting what makes them thrive. Read More
FertilizerHow To Minimize Phosphorus Losses In Runoff
July 15, 2014
Phosphorus losses from agricultural fields can be divided into three categories: flash losses of soluble phosphorus, slow leak losses and erosion events. Here's how to minimize losses in each instance. Read More
ManagementCalifornia Drought Threatens To Dry Up Farm Wells
July 15, 2014
Farmers hit hardest by California's drought could begin to see wells run dry next year, according to a new study by The Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Read More
Precision AgPoll: Do you plan to attend this year’s InfoAg Co…
July 14, 2014
This year’s InfoAg Conference is just two weeks away. The premier event in precision agriculture takes place July 29-31 at Read More
LegislationFarm Bill Implementation Continues
July 14, 2014
The bill provides $28 billion over the next five years for conservation on private lands while streamlining several old programs and creating new ones like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Continues Expansion Of Atmore Facility
July 14, 2014
The company has improved its molten sulphur unloading system to help meet increased sulphur demand at Tiger-Sul’s Atmore, AL, facility. Read More