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Figure 1. Soybean lodging can reduce yield potential and increase harvest losses. Photo courtesy of David Holshouser, Virginia Tech University.
Soybean lodging can result in a reduction of yield potential and increased harvest losses. In controlled studies comparing simulated plant lodging with artificialy supported lodging, losses ranged from 0 to 30% depending on the severity of lodging and the growth stage when lodging occurred.1 Lodging during vegetative or reproductive growth can disrupt light penetration into the plant canopy and may reduce seed yield (Figure 1). Pod and stem diseases may also become more problematic on lodged soybean plants. Lodging late in the season may reduce harvest efficiency and increase harvest losses. Harvest losses due to soybean lodging can vary from 3 to 10% depending on a variety of factors.2
Soybean population. Soybean yield potential may increase, up to a point, with increasing plant population. However, soybean plant populations can vary widely without significant yield loss. Overplanting, especially when soybean seed is drilled, can cause plants to lodge because plants grow taller and more slender as they compete for light.
Soybean stem borer. The soybean stem borer is also commonly referred to as the Dectes stem borer. Larvae are legless, creamy white or yellow in color, and have an “accordion-like65533;? appearance (Figure 2). Larva can move into the main stem of a soybean plant where they can tunnel into the plant as it matures or girdle the stem. Significant soybean yield losses generally occur from larval girdling, which can result in lodging and harvest losses. Lodging is typically most severe in earlier planted soybean plants.
Planting longer season soybeans can help to minimize harvest losses from lodging. Observations have shown early planted, short-season soybean plants may be more prone to lodging as a result of soybean stem borer damage.3,5 Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistant soybean products can also be less susceptible to lodging compared to SCN susceptible products.5
Harvest losses can be minimized by carefully adjusting and operating combines. Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual before performing any maintenance. The following harvest adjustments can help reduce harvest losses when combining lodged soybean plants:
Sources: 1Woods, S.J. and M.L. Searingin. 1977. Influence of simulated early lodging upon soybean seed yield and its components. Agron. J. 69: 239-242. 2Holshouser,D. 2011. Hurricane Irene may be beneficial to Virginia soybeans...still lodging will reduce yield potential. Virginia Soybean Update. Virginia Cooperative Extension. http:// blogs.ext.vt.edu (verified 9/17/13). 3Wright, R. and Hunt, E. 2011. Soybean stem borers in Nebraska. University of Nebraska- Lincoln NebGuide. May 2011.http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu (verified 9/17/13). 5Whalen, J. and Cissel, B. 2011. Dectes stem borer management in soybeans. University of Delaware Cooperative Extension IPM-7 publication revised March 2011. http:// www.ag.udel.edu (verified 9/17/13). 6 Staton, M. 2011. Reducing soybean harvest losses. Michigan State University Extension. http://msue.anr.msu.edu (verified 9/17/13).