Early Soybean Planting Boosts Yields


Growing Soybeans

Traditionally, the time for planting soybeans was whenever growers were done planting corn. However, research shows that the optimal planting date is actually similar for both crops. 

”Planting soybeans in late April or early May used to be considered early,” said Mercedes Gearhart, senior agronomist at AdvanSix. “But now it’s considered ‘on time’ because it results in an extension of the flowering period and allows to capture an extended photoperiod during flowering and grain-fill.  

Ultimately, the results of planting soybeans on time are higher yield and revenue potential. In fact, University of Wisconsin researchers have measured a rapid yield decline of up to 0.5 bu/ac per day after around May 10 planting. Yet Gearhart said soil conditions must always be taken into account before planting. Planting in soil that is too wet and/or too cold can cause compaction, delayed emergence and seedling diseases. 

In addition to the on-time planting of a full maturity, high-yielding variety for their regions, growers can help maximize their soybean quality and yield potential by planting with 15-inch row spacing to facilitate a quicker canopy closure to maximize light interception. Applying herbicides, fungicides and insecticides as needed to manage weeds, pests and disease, and optimizing soil fertility ensures plants have the nutrients they need to support flowering and pod fill.  

“Overall, maximizing yield potential takes a systems approach,” Gearhart said. “Planting date is an interesting soybean management factor in that it involves no extra cost for growers to implement.”