Over three million acres of soybeans were seeded in 2022. High prices have increased the farm gate value of soybeans to over 2.5 billion dollars. The Agricorp floating claim price was $18.72/bu in 2022. Rainfall was sporadic during key plant growth stages, so yields were variable across the province. Field averages ranged below 25 bu/ac in extremely dry areas to over 80 bu/ac in the best parts of the province. For many producers’ yields were higher than anticipated given the dry conditions this summer. Based on reported acres to date the average yield for 2022 was 48 bu/ac. For comparison the 5-year average yield is 48.7 bu/ac. The 2022 average yield is remarkable given the challenges of the growing season and speaks to the higher yield potential and resilience of modern soybean varieties. A relatively dry fall also resulted in good seed quality. Relatively good yields, a timely harvest, and excellent prices has made 2022 an encouraging year for many Ontario soybean growers.
Wide Rows are Becoming more Popular
Lower seeding cost, less white mould, and better emergence have led some Ontario growers to move away from seed drills in favour of planters. However, 30-inch rows are known to have slightly lower yields, especially in northern climates. This yield reduction is the result of slower canopy closure which reduces the amount of sunlight captured by the crop. One way to minimize this issue is to plant longer maturing varieties (higher Maturity Groups or Crop Heat Unit’s (CHU)).
These varieties have additional time to “catch up” because they can use more of the growing season before plant senescence. A study in 2022 at three locations tested four varieties with different maturities. Results showed that longer maturing varieties have a smaller yield loss when planted in 30-inch rows (Table 1). Choosing varieties that are long in maturity for a given area is one way to minimize the yield loss associated with wide rows. It must also be noted that “bushy” varieties are also better suited to wide rows compared to slender plant types.
|Variety||Row||Maturity||Seeding*||Yield||Loss to 30″|
|Width (inches)||Group (CHU)||Rate||(bu/ac)||Rows (bu/ac)|
|1||Viper R2X||15||0.8 (2725)||165||75.7|
|2||Viper R2X||30||0.8 (2725)||140||69.5||-6.2|
|3||Harrier E3||15||1.3 (2850)||165||75.2|
|4||Harrier E3||30||1.3 (2850)||140||70.0||-5.2|
|5||Cyclone R2X||15||1.5 (2900)||165||75.2|
|6||Cyclone R2X||30||1.5 (2900||140||71.9||-3.3|
|7||Cougar E3||15||1.7 (2950)||165||73.9|
|8||Cougar E3||30||1.7 (2950)||140||71.9||-2.0|
Improving Plant Stands
Poor plant stands were a problem in some parts of southwestern Ontario in 2022. Achieving an even, uniform plant stand is often a challenge with soybeans since the seed leaves (cotyledons) must be pushed up through the soil surface to emerge. If seed is planted into dry soil, it cannot absorb enough moisture to germinate (Figure 1.). If it is planted too deep, it will run out of energy before it can emerge. Dry soil conditions lead to poor stands on clay soils this year, but soil crusting was also an issue in some fields. The best way to ensure a good plant stand is to use high quality treated seed. Ontario planting depth trials have also shown that seeding at 1.5 inches provides the best plant stands and final yields on average.
White mould pressure was minimal this year in southwestern Ontario due to the dry weather during flowering, but there were issues in parts of eastern Ontario. Take note of which fields suffered from white mould to ensure best management practices can be used for the next soybean crop (Figure 2). A percentage of the overwintering bodies (sclerotia) of the disease remain viable in the soil for decades. Variety selection is a key management tool to minimize the disease. The use of foliar fungicides during key growth stages also reduces white mould yield losses.
Waterhemp continues to spread into new areas of the province and can now be found in 18 counties (Figure 3). A close relative of pigweed, waterhemp is a competitive annual broadleaf weed that has been found resistant to five different herbicide groups. This makes management a challenge, particularly in soybeans. Two-pass herbicides programs are the most effective way to manage this weed. This requires one to apply an effective pre-emergence herbicide first. Waterhemp seedlings that escape the pre-emergence herbicide, or emerge later, are best controlled when a herbicide tolerant soybean cultivar, like “Xtend” (dicamba tolerant) or “Enlist E3” (2,4-D tolerant) is planted. You can search for management options to control waterhemp in the Ontario Crop Protection Hub.
Large yield differences are becoming more common among soybean varieties. Yield differences of up to 15 bu/ac can be found in the 2022 Ontario Soybean Variety Trials. Results from these trials can be found at go.soy.ca.