Wright: Variety selection is the first step to profitable soybean production
Missouri soybean farmer Kip Cullers amazed the world with his record soybean yield of 139 bushels per acre in 2006. He shocked the farming community in 2007 with another world record soybean yield of 154 bushels per acre. He attributes his success to having the right soil, application of the right amount of water, making the right management decisions and selecting the right genetics. It’s all about managing risk to achieve high, stable yields.
Yield potential is the first consideration. Look for strong yields across multiple locations, that’s called yield stability. Data combined across multiple locations will be more reliable. A variety with stable performance across several locations in the same region is more likely to perform well on your farm.
Evaluating yield performance using multi-year data is also possible if the seed company has a large multi-year dataset. However, keep in mind that predicting year-to-year performance is difficult because of the difficulty in predicting year-to-year variations in the weather.
You can also enhance yield and yield stability by planting seed with resistance to the soybean cyst nematode (SCN). This tiny little roundworm silently robs producers of yield; often without showing above-ground symptoms. Ask your seed supplier to tell you the source of the SCN resistance. Rotating resistance sources will help prevent the nematodes from overcoming SCN resistant varieties.
The agronomics of high-yielding varieties should match the known history of diseases within each field.
While sudden death syndrome and white mold devastated some soybean fields this year, improved disease resistance shouldn’t be the only buying decision for next year’s product portfolio. Choose soybean varieties with above average agronomics but don’t sacrifice yield potential. Remember, you can’t predict how severe soybean diseases will be next year. Although white mold will always be present in some fields, it will likely not be as severe next year.
The geographies impacted by sudden death syndrome (SDS) expanded again this year, with the disease moving further west and north. Farmers will likely see this disease again next year because it often shows up in the same fields that are infested with SCN. Improve your chances of high yield by planting varieties with a combination of SCN resistance and above average resistance to SDS.
Farmers now have a greater choice of varieties with resistance to non-selective herbicides. Choices for glyphosate resistance are expanding to include varieties with the new higher-yielding Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology. If glyphosate resistant weeds are an issue, or you are a practicing steward of technology, varieties resistant to gluphosinate (Ignite herbicide) are now widely available. For higher soybean yields spray weeds early. Weeds compete with soybeans for sunlight, water and nutrients.
Selecting the right high yielding variety is just the first step toward improved profit potential; making the right management decisions is the second step. That is where the Plant Health Initiative can help; managing soybeans from the ground up for higher yield is what we are all about. For information on best management practices for soybean higher soybean yields, access www.planthealth.info. That’s your soybean checkoff. Delivering results.
Dr. David L. Wright
*Content Funded by the Soybean Checkoff