Art and Science of Soybean Maturity Ratings
Tigges suggested that in some ways growers might still be in the discovery stage with soybeans. He noted that many will spend hours on corn hybrid selection to get a 5 percent yield advantage, yet spend minutes on soybean variety selection, bypassing opportunities for similar increases. Part of that he attributed simply to quantity. A 10-bushel increase in 200-bushel corn seems significant versus a 2-bushel increase in 50-bushel soybeans.
“The tendency is to credit the hybrid for the 10-bushel increase, but assign the soybean increase to diff erences in soil, weather or other factors,” said Tigges. “One of the messages to growers is that if you manage your soybean crop more intensively, you will produce more yield.”
Selecting which maturity or maturities to go with, like pest resistance and weed control, are all factors Tigges suggested spending more time on. Maturity selection is especially important for growers trying to manage workload at harvest.
“They may want to plant several maturities to spread out harvest, with earlier maturities to start with and then move to mid and full maturities for maximum yield potential,” he said.
MAXIMIZING MATURITY WITH WEATHER
The later the maturity, the greater the potential the soybeans will capture the benefit of mid- to late-August rains, as many fields did in the otherwise hot and dry 2012. Even in 2013, with planting in many areas extending into late June and early July, full-season varieties had time to mature.
“With soybeans, you have to think about when do you normally not get rain and will you get through that period with your variety selection,” said Tigges. “From a risk management perspective, you may want some early season soybeans in case the weather is the opposite with early or midsummer rains, but generally the later you get into August, the more likely you are to get a beneficial rain.”
Schnebly pointed out that early varieties in 2012 tended to be done pod filling when the late August rains came. Even without that, the yield advantage of full-maturity varieties for a given area are clear, he added. “For each day of maturity, you gain up to half a bushel of yield,” said Schnebly. “Selecting a 2.0 versus a 2.3 can add a bushel and a half. Pushing maturities to the max can push the reproductive period to maximum yield in a good year. Some will push it to the edge, but all it takes is an early frost to bring them back into the fold.”
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