Soybean School: Learning from Ontario's record 54 bu/ac crop

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The 2018 Ontario soybean crop is one for the record books, but you never would have predicted that back in July when much of the crop was desperate for rain.

Not only did the 2018 Ontario crop set a record yield average at 54 bu/ac, it smashed the previous record of 48.3 set in 2012 by almost six bushels. How did it happen? What factors contributed to the bin-busting harvest? We get some answers on this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School from Horst Bohner, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affair’s soybean specialist.

“It really is a case of rain makes grain,” says Bohner, who joins host Bernard Tobin for a look back at the 2018 season. Things didn’t look good in early July when dry conditions stressed much of the crop across the province. As the season progressed, however, that lack of rain actually helped the crop by reducing disease pressure, especially white mould, and by forcing plants to drive roots deeper in search of moisture. When rain did arrive in late July and August, those deep roots were invigorated and then tapped into available nutrients to help drive grain fill.

Bohner believes the early-season stress generated more flowers, which at season’s end put more beans in the bin. He also notes the previous yield record from 2012 was the product of a similar growing season. That means the weather recipe for high-yielding soybeans may very well be a drier spring, less moisture, a touch of drought … and then bring on the rain.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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