Plant #Soybeans Early for Increased Yields


While I got this posted in our CropWatch Web site, I didn’t get it on my blog till now!  Hopefully this inspires many of you to get soybeans planted yet this week!  

Planters are rolling throughout the state and given the size of today’s equipment corn planting is rapidly progressing.  Based on UNL research, we would encourage you to consider planting your soybeans as soon as possible—preferably before the end of April for the southern two-thirds of Nebraska and or the first week of May for the northern third of Nebraska. While evening temperatures have been low, consider the percent risk of frost for emerged plants not planted seeds. The above recommendation considers a 10% risk of frost 7-10 days after planting, the time when soybeans would most likely emerge.

Why plant early? Five years of UNL small plot and on-farm research has proven that early planted soybeans yield more than late planted beans—regardless of whether the spring has been cold and wet or warm and dry. Soybeans are a photoperiod-sensitive crop so the goal is to allow the plant to use the sun’s energy to accumulate as many nodes as possible as day length decreases after June 21. Nodes are important because that’s where pods, seeds, and ultimately yield are produced.  The goal is to have the soybean canopy “green to the eye by the fourth of July!”.  Thus the plants are absorbing all the sunlight possible not allowing any to be wasted by hitting the soil.

Table 1 shows how three years of on-farm research have resulted in an average of 3 bu/ac yield increase (with a range of 1-10 bu/ac depending on the year and the planting date range of early versus later planting). With today’s soybean prices, a 3 bu/ac yield increase adds up (see Table 2). We do recommend a fungicide/insecticide seed treatment to reduce the risk of damping off diseases and bean leaf beetles which tend to feed on early-planted soybeans. 

Several previous CropWatch articles explain soybean planting date in more detail. Please see these for more information:

Table 1:  Nebraska On-farm Research Early and Late Planted Soybean Yield Results (2008-2010)

Year

Producer

Date

Reps

Rainfed/

Irrigated

Variety

Row Spacing

Yield (bu/acre)

2008

SCAL Early

Apr. 29

3

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

67.2

2008

SCAL Late

May 15

3

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

65.8

2008

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 30

3

Irrigated

NC+ 2895

30”

68.4

2008

Seward Co. Late

May 19

3

Irrigated

NC+ 2895

30”

66.2

2008

York Co. Early

Apr. 23

8

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

66.9

2008

York co. Late

May 14

8

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

63.5

2008

Fillmore Co. Early

Apr. 30

7

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

81.0

2008

Fillmore Co. Late

May 19

7

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

77.5

2009

SCAL Early

Apr. 27

4

Rainfed

Pioneer 93M11

30”

37.6+

2009

SCAL Late

May 18

4

Rainfed

Pioneer 93M11

30”

37.2

2009

Saunders Co. Early

May 3

6

Rainfed

NC+ A63RR

15”

66.6

2009

Saunders Co. Late

May 21

6

Rainfed

NC+ A63RR

15”

65.1

2009

SCAL Early

Apr. 27

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

70.2

2009

SCAL Late

May 18

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

68.1

2009

Fillmore Co. Early

Apr. 24

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

69.5

2009

Fillmore Co. Late

May 15

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

68.4

2009

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 24

4

Irrigated

NC+ 2A63

30”

73.2

2009

Seward Co. Late

May 20

4

Irrigated

NC+ 2A63

30”

71.3

2009

York Co. Early

Apr. 30

3

Irrigated

NK 28B4

30”

59.1

2009

York Co. Late

May 15

3

Irrigated

NK 28B4

30”

58.6

2010

Saunders Co. Early

Apr. 18

6

Rainfed

Channel 2751

15”

75.7

2010

Saunders Co. Late

May 18

6

Rainfed

Channel 2751

15”

71.2

2010

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 19

6

Irrigated

Channel 3051RR

30”

72.0

2010

Seward Co. Late

May 24

6

Irrigated

Channel 3051RR

30”

62.3

Average Early

 

 

 

 

 

70.0*

Average Late

 

 

 

 

 

67.1

*Statistically significant at 95% level.
+SCAL Rainfed was not included in the combined statistical analysis but Saunders Co. Rainfed was compared with irrigated yields from other locations.

Table 3:  Economic Advantage to a 3 bu/ac Yield Increase Due to Early Soybean Planting Date

Price of Soybeans  $ 7.00  $ 8.00  $ 9.00  $ 10.00  $ 11.00  $ 12.00  $ 13.00  $ 14.00
Economic Advantage  $ 21.00  $ 24.00  $ 27.00  $ 30.00  $ 33.00  $ 36.00  $ 39.00  $ 42.00

About jenreesources

I'm the Crops and Water Extension Educator for York and Seward counties in Nebraska with a focus in irrigated crop production and plant pathology.

Posted on April 29, 2012, in Crop Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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