WATERTOWN, S.D. — SDSU researchers have conducted several studies to identify practices that may have an impact on maximizing soybean yield potential. Studies have found that planting at an earlier date using a higher population has proven to be the most effective in increasing yield, although more research is still needed.
SDSU Extension agronomist, presented his findings at the Watertown Crops Expo held Jan. 11 at the Codington County Extension Center.
“It can be difficult for producers to pick which planting date is going to do the best because weather is so variable, however, planting early is going to be better for soybeans and I’ve become more of a proponent of that over the years,” said Kleinjan.
Typically, seed companies have said that 140,000 seeds per acre is the ideal planting population. Kleinjan wondered if there was a planting date component to that and although the study has only been conducted for one year, it finds the earlier planting date had a significant response to higher planting rates.
The study was conducted using three different planting dates on May 1, May 15 and June 2. Four varieties/maturities were used at three different planting populations of 100,000,140,000 and 180,000 per acre and replicated three times.
“The 180,000 plants per acre was a lot better than 140,000 and then by the time we got to the mid May planting date, the traditional 140,000 was better,” said Kleinjan. “It warrants further study, but it’s something interesting to see.”
In 2023, research found there was also an 8 bushel response to planting in the first week of May versus the middle of May while using a fungicide. On average, producers may see a 3-5 bushel response planting in the first week of May versus planting May 15 to 20, although it can vary each year.
“I’ve almost always seen a 2-3 bushel response to fungicide when it’s applied at the R3 stage, and that’s in the absence of any discernible diseases,” said Kleinjan. “Will every product do that? Probably not, but in my trials I’ve seen it.”
Overall, Kleinjan says that planting at the 140,000 population is sufficient in most cases and mentions that planting earlier should be thrown out the window in areas highly susceptible to white mold.
“The biggest thing I can say right now to soybean producers to increase yield would be to plant early,” said Kleinjan. “I would consider planting before your corn and to me, applying a fungicide seems to be a no-brainer at the R3 phase.”
Kleinjan also presented a study that looked at 10 different commercially available seed treatment products for soybeans to see if they could affect yield or plant growth. There were 20 states participating in this study over the course of two years. Less than 10% of sites demonstrated a yield response in 2022 and preliminary results show yield response to be unlikely in 2023.
Since these biological seed treatments are not regulated in the United States, Kleinjan urges producers to do their homework and try these products on a limited basis.
“Most of them have merit as they worked in the lab and in the greenhouse,” said Kleinjan. “But once you get them out of the soil and into the environment, it’s hard to predict where they might work.”
Hunter Wyly, a first-year Ag Production student at Lake Area Technical Institute from Aberdeen, South Dakota, was one of many students in the audience at the Watertown Crops Expo.
“It can change year to year but it definitely shows when you want your planting day to be,” Wyly said. “But you also have to farm your own ground, everyone’s ground is just a little different.”
After finishing school, Wyly hopes to return home to the family farm where they raise around 2,000 acres of mainly corn, soybeans and milo as well as some wheat. He plans to take back what he has learned to further benefit their farm.
Kennedy is a reporter for Agweek based out of South Dakota. She grew up on an organic crop farm where her family also raises Black Angus cattle in eastern South Dakota. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 2023 with a major in agricultural communication and minor in agricultural business. She enjoys connecting with producers and agribusinesses across the region while reporting on all things agriculture.
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