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10 Things to Consider to Increase Your Soybean Yields – Part 1 of 2

Mother Nature needs to provide an August rain in order for soybeans to yield, right? Are we solely at the mercy of Mother Nature or can things be done to reduce the risk of not getting an August rain?

The genetic potential within a seed is not realized within a growing season due mainly to abiotic stresses (temperature, wind, sunlight, flood, drought, salt, minerals, etc.). Helping reduce stress can have a positive impact on soybean yields.

In addition to selecting top genetics, here are 10 things to consider to increase your chances of higher soybean yields:

  1. Trash management
  2. Time of planting
  3. Seed bed preparation and planting depth
  4. Seed singulation, spacing, and depth for even emergence
  5. Seed treatment
  6. Double inoculation
  7. Seed-placed fertility
  8. Early weed control
  9. In-season fertility
  10. Foliar fungicide

In a two-part article, we’ll provide more details on each of our 10 considerations, including how NorthStar Genetics will help growers push for bigger soybean yields this summer.

Part 1

  1. Trash Management
    • There is always a balance between getting soil to warm up early and retaining moisture. More emphasis can be placed on uniform trash distribution. Uniform distribution enables the soil to warm up evenly, improves seed to soil contact, and helps optimize germination and early root establishment. It also helps reduce crusting of the soil.
  1. Time of Planting
    • Early planting can give you higher yields, taller plants, and higher pod set. There is a positive correlation between higher yields and having the first flower by summer solstice. This equates to planting in the first half of May. Timing is everything as you do not want to be too early as plants germinate and grow slower, and the risk of frost increases. Factors to consider when planting are soil temperatures, soil moisture, seeding depth, and the weather forecast over the next 48-72 hours.
  1. Seed Bed Preparation and Planting Depth
    • It may sound a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but it is important to have a bed that is “just right.” A seed bed that is too hard leads to poor soil-to-seed contact, therefore, reducing germination. It also leads to poor root development, which results in reduced moisture and nutrient uptake. An outcome of a seed bed that is too soft is uneven seed depth, which creates uneven or delayed emergence. A soft seed bed is more susceptible to soil erosion. A firm seed bed that is just right allows for uniform seed placement and planting depth. We recommend a seed depth of 0.75 to 1.5 inches.

  1. Seed Singulation, Spacing, and Depth for Even Emergence
    • There has been a lot of research conducted on corn illustrating the importance of even emergence. Soybeans are often viewed as having an incredible ability to compensate for uneven emergence and their ability to fill in the gaps on skips and misplaced seed. But do we know this to be true? Encouragement is to give your soybeans the best chance for even emergence (timing out of the ground and spacing), so all your soybean plants are equally as healthy to compete and maximize nutrients, water, and sunlight provided to them. Time of planting, trash management, seed treatment, and setting and utilizing your equipment can help with even emergence, in addition to planting at proper depth. Seed singulation refers to the way the meter takes one seed at a time and drops it down the seed tube. Spacing refers to the distance between the plants in the row. Calibrating your equipment and reducing your speed can both help you manage your singulation, spacing, and seed depth. All of these factors contribute to even emergence.
  1. Seed Treatment
    • Protecting your seed and roots and ensuring they get off to a good start is paramount in setting the stage for favourable yields. Using a seed treatment with a fungicide and metalaxyl will increase your chances in battling soil- and seed-borne (root rot) diseases such as Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Phytophthora. Insecticides on-seed may help control wireworms, cutworms, and soybean aphids.
  1. Double Inoculation
    • Soybeans require 5 lbs of nitrogen for every bushel of seed they produce. It is believed that soybeans can fix enough of their own nitrogen requirements to produce up to 80 bushel/acre. This is very encouraging, but you do not want poor nodulation to be a limiting factor in achieving yield. Inoculants are living organisms. Inoculating on-seed and in-furrow increases the chances of a healthy population of rhizobium as abiotic factors (such as extreme moisture or drought, cold soil temperatures, and low organic matter) can lead to mortality. Let’s not let nodulation be a limiting factor.

Our next Growing Soybeans and Corn article will cover the balance of our “10 Things to Consider…” and how NorthStar Genetics will help growers push for bigger soybean yields this summer. Stay tuned!