Checklist for High Yielding Soybeans

The Ontario Soybean Growers began a soybean yield competition in 2008. The results were impressive! The winner yielded 72.1 bu/ac near Seaforth. These yields are good examples that with the right weather, soil type, and management, large yields are possible in Ontario. With the big yields and excellent prices in 2008, some producers grossed over $1,000 per acre in their best fields. Maximum yields are crucial for high profits.

Consider the following checklist (Table 1) when growing soybeans for maximum yield potential. Some of these management practices are free, while others are quite costly. Each field must be assessed individually to make the most out of each input dollar. Try to address the number one yield limiting factor for each field.

Table 1 – Checklist For High Yielding Soybeans

Avg Yield Gain
1 Good Rotation
For a 100% yield potential, soybeans should only be grown 1 out of 4 years. A corn/soy/wheat rotation is also excellent and provides a 98% potential.
2 High Yielding Full Season Varieties
Check the soybean variety trial brochure ( before picking a variety. For example, OAC Wallace yields 8 bu/ac more than OAC Bayfield.
3 Early Planting
An early-May planting date compared to late-May will provide extra yield.
4 Narrow Rows at the Right Seeding Rate
194,000 seeds/acre in 7.5″ rows
177,000 sees/acre in 15″ rows
5 Seed Treatments
Seed treatments are more likely to give a positive result if planting is followed by cool wet weather or if disease and insects are present. This is more often the case with early planting.
6 Inoculants
Response is likely to be higher if soils are sandy, pH is low, or the field has not been in soybeans for at least 5 years.
7 Timely Weed Control
Always use a burn-down in no-till. If timely weed control is an issue, consider using an inexpensive residual partner, even with RR soybeans.
8 Foliar Insect and Disease Control
Controlling pests when they reach threshold numbers is key to high yielding soybeans. Scout fields regularly.
9 Fertilizer and Manure
P and K should be applied according to a soil test. However, manure can provide yield gains even if soil test levels are adequate.
10 Appropriate Tillage
When compaction is a problem, tillage is necessary for good yields. If the soil is in good shape, tillage will provide little yield response. On average, spring one-pass (pre-tillage) will provide a slight yield gain over no-till.

* Yield gains are based on Ontario research.
** Yield gains will vary depending on the varieties being compared
*** Yield gains from these factors are highly variable depending on soil test and pest pressure levels.

OSG Yield Contest
2009 marks the second year for the Soybean Yield Challenge, sponsored by the Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG).
To compete in the challenge, the soybean field size must be a minimum of 10 acres and the harvested plot must be a minimum of 1.5 acres of that same field. All soybean production practices are permitted. Conventional or genetically modified soybean seed is eligible, but all seed must be certified. Growers will be required to fill out a survey form stating production practices of the competition field, location of field and general weather data. Competition areas will be divided into three provincial zones based on maturity groups – Zone 1 – 2,700 HU and under; Zone 2 – 2,725 to 3,000 HU; and Zone 3 – 3,025 HU and above. Why not enter the contest to see what your yield potential is in 2009?
For more information:
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