High Yield Management in Soybeans – Southern IL

Intensive soybean management has allowed some producers in the United States to reach yields of 100 bushels per acre. This tremendous yield potential, along with commodity prices and new technology, has motivated many growers to increase yield goals for the 2012 season. Agronomic management related to seeding rate, row spacing, and fertility as well as chemistry of seed treatment and foliar fungicide can be adjusted to help achieve these goals. Results from a high yield management study at the Southern Illinois University Belleville Research Farm in 2011 are presented below.

Study Guidelines

A high yield management study was conducted by Monsanto at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Belleville Research Farm in 2011 to evaluate the effect of intensive management on soybean yield. Asgrow® AG3931 and AG4730 brands were planted at two different planting dates, May 9 and June 1, to simulate early and late scenarios, respectively. The high yield management treatments included Acceleron® seed treatment products, and Headline® foliar fungicide (6 oz/acre) and Mustang Max® foliar insecticide (4 oz/acre) applied at R3 stage.

All treatments were seeded at 175,000 seeds per acre in 30-inch rows. Weeds were controlled with a preemergence (PRE) application of Authority® First herbicide followed by Warrant® Herbicide and Roundup PowerMAX® herbicide ostemergence. Three replications of each treatment were evaluated.


The low management treatments consisted of strong weed control, and no seed or foliar treatments, while the high management treatments included strong weed control, seed treatment, foliar fungicide, and foliar insecticide. When averaging across soybean brand and planting date, there was a 6.9 bu/acre yield advantage to high yield management (Figure 1). On average, there was nearly a 12 bu/acre yield advantage to early planting (Figure 1). Across varieties, there was an 18.8 bu/acre yield increase when planting early and implementing high yield management practices, compared to later planting and low management (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Yield results from high yield management study. Data shown for each soybean brand at two planting dates, with low and high management treatments. Data source: Southern Illinois University Belleville Research Farm 2011; three replications.

Tips for High Yield Management in Soybeans

As the SIU Belleville data indicated, implementation of high yield management in soybeans can increase yield potential. Agronomic practices that maximize canopy development and minimize stress can help drive soybean yield.

Maximize Canopy Development. By managing soybeans for early canopy development, the following can occur:

• Canopy photosynthesis increases.

• Number of main-stem nodes and biomass increases.

• Potential for earlier flowering, and therefore a longer reproductive period.

• Soil moisture is conserved for critical reproductive periods.

Growers can promote earlier canopy and increase light interception in the following ways:

Planting early. An early planting date can increase soybean yield by creating larger plants during the vegetative stages that are able to utilize more of the available sunlight and soil moisture.

Narrow rows. Narrow rows (less than 30-inches) allow soybean rows to close quickly, which improves light interception.

Appropriate seeding rate. Soybeans have the ability to adjust and compensate for different plant populations. Therefore, seeding rate may not be as critical as with other crops such as corn. A seeding rate of 140,000 seeds per acre is generally adequate under optimum planting conditions in southern Illinois.

Using Acceleron® Seed Treatment Products. A three year summary (2008-2010) of field data with varying levels of insect and disease pressure indicated soybeans treated with Acceleron® insecticide/fungicide seed treatment products had performance gain wins 73% of the time compared to untreated soybeans1. In addition, data from the same trials indicated that Acceleron® seed treatment products improved soybean stand and vigor.

Minimize Stress. Stress mitigation trials conducted by Monsanto examined the individual and collective responses of insecticide, fungicide, residual herbicide, and seed treatment. Four years of data demonstrated an average yield increase of 7.3 bu/acre when soybeans received intensive management2. When examining the yield contribution of each of the four treatment components, insecticide + fungicide contributed 89% and 73% of total yield response in 2009 and 2010, respectively2. Other agronomic practices to consider when maximizing yield potential include the following:

Variety Selection. Growers should select the best genetics and traits package that matches the potential stresses in each field.

​Optimize Fertility. If nutrients are limited, water transport, photosynthesis, and production of protein, oil, and carbohydrates do not occur at proper rates. This can lead to a decrease in growth and yield production. Southern Illinois soils can be low in potassium (K), and to increase yield potential, K levels need to be at appropriate values. In soybeans, K is important for nodule format nitrogen fixation and therefore I o n. Additionally, K plays a role in energy productionvia photosynthesis and moisture conservation during times of moisture stress. Proper soil pH is important for nutrient availability. A soil pH of 6.5 should be targeted in soybeans. For more information on high yield management in soybeans, talk with your local Asgrow® brand seed dealer.​​