Three Keys to High-Yielding Soybeans

Our focus for Latham Premier Agronomy Center in Alexander, Iowa, is to showcase a broad lineup of independent options and to demonstrate how genetics interact with the environment and management styles (G X E X M).

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In the Premier Agronomy Center this year, we tested 26 Latham® soybean varieties using 28 different management practices. My top take-home messages for our 2022 soybean plots are:

  1. August rains make soybeans. We received 11.8 inches of rain this season but 4.1 inches of it fell in August. Although we received below-normal moisture, the rain came at the right time. Our plots averaged 75 bushels per acre (bu/A) on about 12 total inches of rain!
  2. Don’t stress soybeans at early bloom. Weed control in soybeans is extremely important. I made a second pass of Liberty® in season, however, it reduced yields by 10 percent. Our showcase plots did not get the extra dose of herbicide and averaged 86 bu/A; the plots that received a second pass yielded an average of 78 bu/A.
  3. “Early” planting date is key to high yield. While earlier is better, “early” does not mean April 10 because we don’t want to risk stand loss to freezing temps. This year our first soybean plots were planted later than expected due to conditions. The plots planted May 13 averaged 5.5 bu/A better than the plots planted May 20. Seven days can make a difference in the number of nodes and pods retained, plus the canopy closes sooner.

The key to higher yields is how all three components – genetics by environment by management – interact. Fertility tops my list, so I always make sure potassium is sufficient. Potassium is what gets soybeans (and corn) through stressful times and helps them better manage water loss on hot days.

Latham® soybeans have outstanding yield potential. But like all living and breathing organisms, our soybeans struggle to perform when they’re stressed at the wrong time. The key to top soybean yields is management: reduce as much stress as possible during the growing season because we can’t control the weather.

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