Maintain Soybean Yield Potential During Tough Times

Figure 1

Figure 1. High-yielding soybeans.

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During tough times some farmers look at cost reductions in their production systems to offset low returns. There are a number of proven practices that should be maintained in a soybean system to keep yield potential high and generate as much revenue per acre as possible (Figure 1). Cheap seed may seem like a good idea on the surface but may be subject to increased risks and stresses that compromise yield potential. After genetic yield potential, environmental conditions and agronomic decisions have the most influence on soybean growth, development, and yield.

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Several proven tactics are necessary to sustain high yield potential soybean systems:

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1. Soybean product selection

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  • Select soybean products with high yield potential and traits that match potential stresses a crop may face.
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  • Select a product’s relative maturity for the area with defensive traits to for good plant health for the duration of the season.
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  • Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans outperform LibertyLink® by greater than 3 bu/acre and original Roundup Ready® by greater than 4 bu/acre.*
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2. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is one of the most yield-limiting problems in soybeans.3 Soil testing and rotating cyst-resistant soybean products with high yield potential are essential for SCN and associated disease management.

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3. Early planting date trials show that planting during the first half of May in North Dakota is favorable for highest yield potential with a reduced risk of frost injury.4 Earlier planting allows the use of full-season products, which typically yield more than shorter-season products. Data from planting date studies show that late plantings may have lower seed yields, poorer seed quality, lower oil content, shorter plant height, and pods set closer to the ground compared with optimum planting dates.

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4. In North Dakota row spacing studies, average canopy closure occurred about a month earlier with 14-inch rows compared to wider 28-inch rows.5 Quicker canopy closure provides the potential advantages of greater weed competition, soil moisture conservation, increased capture of sunlight, and all potentially resulting in higher yield.

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5. Managing weeds early contributes to earlier canopy closure and can help suppress the most competitive weeds. Use a complete herbicide program that includes pre-emergence residual herbicides at or before planting, followed by timely in-crop herbicide applications that include products with multiple sites of action that target the most troublesome weeds in each field.

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6. Scouting the crop weekly helps to identify insect infestations before economic thresholds are exceeded and to identify other stresses that can reduce yield potential. Scouting is also an important source of data for crop rotation planning.

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7. Soil fertility testing is essential to maintain adequate levels of nutrients throughout the season to satisfy the needs of a high-yielding crop.

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8. Seed treatments can offer early season disease and insect protection to promote early, more uniform, and vigorous seedling development that contributes to strong, early canopy development. This is important when considering reduced seeding rates. Seed treatments coupled with the appropriate seeding rate makes economic sense. University of Wisconsin evaluated the return on investment of fungicide seed treatments with an untreated control at .6 The results from a University of Wisconsin study during 2008 to 2010 conducted by the show that the probability of return above the cost of the treatment increased to greater than 50% as yield potential and commodity price increased.

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Acceleron® Seed Treatment Products with multiple fungicide and insecticide modes of action offer the broadest spectrum early-season disease and pest protection during the critical first 30 days after planting. Acceleron® Seed Treatment Products can significantly reduce disease pressure, improve root and plant health, and can protect yield potential by an average of 2.2 bu/acre compared to untreated soybeans. Seed treatment protection can reduce replanting by up to 75% compared to untreated soybeans.

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*Data as of October 29, 2015. Includes pre-commercial and commercial strip trial data. Data represents Roundup Ready 2 Yield® products versus commercially available competitor LibertyLink® products. Data as of October 27, 2015. Includes pre-commercial and commercial strip trial data. All head-to-head comparisons are within +/- 0.4 maturity group. Data represents the top performing Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® products (with a minimum of 15 comparisons per product) versus competitor Roundup Ready® products.