As soybean researchers continue pushing achievable soybean yields, DuPont Pioneer agronomists advise growers to manage their soybeans intensively for high yield.
Mark Jeschke, DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager, says the biggest challenge to high soybean yields is changing the mindset about managing your soybean crop.
"Over the years, soybeans have gotten less attention during the growing season,” says Jeschke. “There are many legitimate reasons — the major pest list is longer for corn; soybean pest problems are often localized and do not occur every year; and soybean planting frequently takes a back seat to getting the corn into the ground.”
However, the researchers working in the labs, greenhouses and test plots want growers to know that the reward will be there for intensive soybean management. The first step in managing for high yield is stand establishment. Earlier planting and higher levels of crop residue mean growers often drop the planter into colder, wetter soils. As a result, the potential for seedling diseases increases.
“Seed treatments protect seed planted into challenging conditions,” Jeschke says. “Fungicide seed treatments offer multiple modes of action that protect against a broad spectrum of early season diseases, such as Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Pythium.”
Adding an insecticide to seed treatments helps control pests before their feeding can provide an entry port for disease. Seed treatment options also include a rhizobia inoculant/extender and a biological component that helps increase nodulation for better nutrient availability and uptake by the plant.
Soybean growers can also gain an advantage with narrow rows. Drilled narrow rows and 15-inch planted rows typically out yielded 30-inch rows by an average of 3–4 bu/acre in studies published over the last decade.
“Growers generally see higher yields as soybean rows narrow. The results have been fairly consistent,” Jeschke says.
The DuPont Pioneer agronomist also offers these additional management tips:
- Plant as early as practical using full-season varieties for your geography. The plants will flower earlier and produce more nodes, increasing the potential for greater pod and seed numbers.
- Manage soil fertility. Soybeans utilize 55% more potassium than a 200 bu/acre corn crop, so residual corn fertility may not be enough.
- Practice crop rotation to break disease and insect cycles, lessen their severity, and increase yield.
- Achieve excellent stand establishment in all tillage systems with planting equipment adapted to residue conditions.
Finally, Jeschke recommends growers monitor in-season weed, pest and disease problems, and manage accordingly.