Soybean yields good despite weather challenges

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2013 soybean yields in Missouri were good, a testimony to the resilience of the state’s top row crop. Heavy precipitation and isolated flooding in spring delayed planting. Then the spigot dried up during crucial growth periods.

“Soybean are tough,” said University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist Bill Wiebold. “That’s why soybean is the No. 1 crop in the state.”

The Division of Plant Sciences in MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources recently released results of the 2013 Variety Testing Program. Since 1973, seed companies and organizations have selected several of their best varieties for evaluation at farmer-owned fields and MU test plots throughout the state. Experienced MU researchers use scientific principles and procedures to provide unbiased information to farmers and others.

The northern region of the state stretching from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River reported Group 3 seed yields of 38.8 bushels per acre at Novelty to 70.5 bushels per acre in Craig, Wiebold said. Parts of the region went without rain for several weeks during critical growing periods, while other areas received scattered showers.

In central Missouri between Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 36, yields varied also. In the Henrietta bottoms, yields of 70 bushels per acre were reported, while Truxton plots produced 35 bushels per acre. Columbia yields were 45 bushels per acre.

The southwestern Missouri region along the U.S. Highway 71 corridor reported some of the state’s lowest yields. An unusually large amount of spring precipitation and flooding pushed back planting dates and caused poor stands before drought took its toll. The test plot at Harrisonville produced 35 bushels per acre; 52 bushels per acre were recorded at Nevada’s irrigated farm.

Southeastern Missouri had 56 bushels per acre at Portageville and 39 at Morehouse among Group 4 seeds. Group 5 seeds produced 54 bushels per acre at Portageville and 44 bushels per acre at Morehouse. Test plots in the southeastern region were irrigated.

Missouri is the eighth-ranking state in soybean production in the U.S. One bushel of soybean produces 1.5 gallons of soy oil and 48 pounds of soybean meal, which supplies 21 pounds of animal feed. Industrial uses are inks, plastics, solvents and biodiesel.

Soybeans were originally grown as a forage crop, but began to be a popular row crop in the 1940s. In Missouri, the five-year average yield of beans through 2010 was 37.8 bushels per acre at an average price of $11.61. The lowest yield was in 1936, when only 5 bushels per acre were harvested.

For more details on the variety test history, procedures and results, go to

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