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Soybean Production Practices for 2015 and Beyond

Top tips for increasing soybean yields now and in the future.

When it comes to increasing soybean yields, striving for continual improvement is key.

While most practices are standard procedure, employing them at the right time and with precision can make all the difference, says Southern States Agronomist Eddie McGriff.

In addition, it pays to keep a close eye on new production methods or technologies that could further yield potential. Case in point: More growers in the Southeast may soon benefit from an early production system with indeterminate varieties that could give them an extra bump in yields.

Soybean Production Management

So how can you increase soybean yields today? Many factors contribute to a profitable harvest. McGriff shares his top recommendations for a high-yielding soybean crop:

  1. Practice good weed, insect, and disease control to limit plant stress
  2. Irrigate when required—timely irrigation is critical
  3. Ensure soils have adequate nutrient levels all around, but pay special attention to potassium
  4. Take soil and tissue samples
  5. Inoculate your soybeans
  6. Choose the best variety for your area
  7. Plant varieties with resistance to nematodes or use nematicides if nematodes are a threat
  8. Avoid lodging by limiting nitrogen at planting to no more than 30 pounds per acre
  9. A nitrogen application at pod elongation may aid growers aiming for 80 bushel plus soybeans
  10. Make sure soils have a minimum pH of 6.0 to 6.5

Indeterminate Seeds

Looking to the future, growers in the Southeast have seen a rise in popularity of indeterminate varieties for helping increase soybean yield. While these types of varieties have been available in the Midwest for some time, they have not been as well adapted for conditions in the Deep South. Fortunately, more interest in indeterminate varieties has prompted additional research into how to best employ these them in southern locations.

McGriff says that indeterminate varieties have more yield potential than traditional determinate varieties. "With determinate, once the plant starts flowering, that's all the growth you will get," McGriff explains. "Indeterminate varieties are not restricted in this way, allowing soybean plants to continue growing after flowering." As a result, they have new leaves coming in for a longer period of time and essentially can produce more food for themselves.

Indeterminate varieties do have some drawbacks. For one, southern growers facing root-knot nematodes could have problems tackling these pests since very few indeterminate resistant strains for them exist.

In addition, growers planting indeterminate varieties must be very timely in their planting. "You have to be on an early production system to plant these varieties, as planting during the traditional time has the potential for poor seed quality," says McGriff.

In southern Georgia, for example, McGriff recommends planting mid to late April, much earlier than the traditional May 10 to June 10 planting timeframe. Growers should plan on harvesting these types of varieties early to avoid seed quality problems.

For more information on soybean production management, how to increase soybean yields and new developments in the industry, consult your Southern States Agronomy Professional.

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