COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Planting early maturing soybean varieties may help guard against a late, wet harvest like Ohio growers experienced this season.



Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that early-maturing varieties yield as well as medium-to-late-maturing varieties, but many growers don't plant them because of performance misconceptions.



"Early maturing varieties don't get as big as later-maturing varieties, and growers think they don't yield well. People don't like short crops. To them, bigger is better," said Beuerlein. "But there's nothing wrong with growing short-season varieties. They can help spread out the harvest season, allowing wheat to get planted on time, and provide higher quality grain because all the crop gets harvested in a more timely manner, and can reduce harvest problems caused by wet weather."



Based on OSU Extension research, when short-season varieties are planted early, they yield just as well as medium season varieties planted two weeks later.



"Everybody likes to grow medium-to-full-season varieties because they perform better in wide rows, but the short-season varieties will yield equally well in a 7.5-inch row system," said Beuerlein.



Soybeans are classified by their relative maturity, ranging from Group 000 to Group 9, and are broken down in one-day intervals using a decimal system. For example, a variety classified as 2.3 will mature five days sooner than a variety classified as 2.8. Varieties ranging in relative maturity from 2.0 to 4.5 are grown in Ohio, with 2.0 to 3.5 generally grown in northern Ohio and 2.8 to 4.5 grown in southern Ohio.



"The bigger the number, the longer the growing season," said Beuerlein. "We classify varieties as being mature when 95 percent of the pods on the plant have turned brown, and the plant is no longer producing organic matter."



Beuerlein recommends that growers select a spectrum of early, medium and full-season varieties for their area to help spread out harvest.



"Spreading out their maturities will allow growers to get around some of the wet weather that they've experienced this growing season," said Beuerlein. "Leaving soybeans in the field long after they have matured impacts their quality. When seeds get wet after maturing, they try to germinate, which lowers test weights and reduces quality. Soybean seeds are of better quality if they are harvested as soon as they dry down after maturity."



Growers searching for early season soybean varieties for next year can refer to the Ohio Soybean Performance Trials. The purpose of the trials is to give soybean growers comparative information for selecting the best varieties for their individual production systems.



SOURCE: Ohio State University news release.