Soybean School: Rolling soybeans could boost yield

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The idea of rolling soybeans got its start in many areas as producers looked for ways to push stones into the ground to keep them out of the combine at harvest. But could there be a yield benefit?

When rolling soybeans, timing is important – both the growth stage and time of day. In this episode of RealAgriculture Soybean School, OMAFRA soybean specialist Horst Bohner says he prefers to roll the crop at first trifoliate (VI stage), after the plants have emerged. That ensures the soybeans have advanced past the hook stage and also avoids any trouble caused by soil crusting.

Bohner also likes to roll during hot afternoons to ensure the beans are limp, which gives them the ability to flex without breaking before quickly bouncing back. He encourages growers to get off the tractor and take a close look at the plants to ensure they’re just leaning over and not breaking off.

This summer, OMAFRA’s Horst Bohner will test the concept of breaking off some stems during rolling to encourage more nodes and more yield.

While Bohner notes that the practice of rolling has traditionally been linked to harvest considerations, new thinking is emerging that could link rolling to increased yield.
“The idea is that maybe we should be rolling later, breaking off some of those stems and encouraging a hormonal response to get more nodes and more yield,” explains Bohner. He’ll be testing the hypothesis this summer in research trials that will look at the impact of rolling at different stages – from pre-emergence to VI, V2 and V3.

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