Soybean School: Lower populations pack yield potential

In Ontario, 120,000 soybean plants per acre is a common target to maximize yield.

But some of today’s modern soybean genetics can deliver much higher yields when planted at lower populations in high-yield environments. On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Bernard Tobin and PRIDE Seeds market agronomist Matt Chapple put this theory to the test in variety plots near Chatham, Ontario.

In the video, Chapple illustrates how some varieties can produce prodigious yields at 60,000 plants per acre. On one variety, Chapple estimates that the bushy, large-rooted, heavily-nodulated plant is producing more than 200 pods per plant. Using a conservative factor of 2.3 beans per pod, the estimated yield would be 206 bu/ac. (Story continues after the video.)

The performance of this variety, and other varieties in the test plot, indicates the tremendous potential of soybean genetics, says Chapple. He believes there is growing evidence that modern genetics could allow growers to cut back populations to deliver a yield boost and maximize return on their seed investment.

But before making the leap to lower populations, there are a host of management factors to consider including the yield environment, fertility and the soybean variety, specifically its architecture — is it a bushy plant style that will produce extra branches that will pod up nicely? Aggressive emergence and standability will also be key, he notes.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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