A North Dakota State University official is investigating why research plots are producing more soybeans than average farm yields of the crop.

If the study is successful, it could improve soybean production statewide, NDSU extension agronomist and project coordinator Hans Kandel told the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1SLXUjk ).

"If you had an increase in yield, you could still make a profit on soybeans in 2016," he said.

Yield is the amount of bushels produced per acre. In the east of the state, trial plots are producing yields of 50 bushels per acre, according to Kandel.

"Statewide, the average is more in that 34, 35 (bushel) range, so there is quite a substantial difference," he said.

Kandel believes variety selection, planting date and plant population might be factors. He's asking farmers to provide data for the study and hopes to release results before spring planting.

"If we can figure out which are the most limiting factors, we can help farmers make better management decisions to obtain higher yields," he said.

The study will continue after this year's crops are planted. Researchers also plan to conduct field observations during the growing season and study soil and weather data, to examine soil types and their effects on yield.