Soybean School: Driving yield with foliar fungicides and bigger beans

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One extra soybean per plant based on a population of 165 plants per acre equals one bushel.

Based on that math, it only takes two or three pods per plant for growers to add six to nine bushels per acre to their harvested yield, says Veritas Farm Management manager Aaron Breimer.

Throughout Ontario cash crop circles, Breimer is known for his ability to distil large quantities of crop yield and performance data and into management insights. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Breimer discusses research that shows how the 3rd, 4th, and 5th nodes (from the bottom up) of a soybean plant produce the most pods per node and yield potential. “Everybody talks about those pods at the top of the plant, but the majority of the pods (and the yield) are further down in the canopy, ” he notes.

Breimer explains that more intensive management of those critical pod-producing nodes from mid through late July could yield a strong return on investment. Unfortunately, he says, too many growers during this period are focused on harvesting winter wheat and miss the management opportunity. (Story continues after video.)

What should growers be doing in their soybean fields during that July timeframe? Breimer says tissue testing is the key. Weekly tests can reveal whether nutrient levels — phosphorus, manganese, and boron levels — are decreasing and signal whether additional nutrients are required to support pod development. He notes that an increasing number of growers are applying soybean fungicides during this period — why not tissue test to determine whether you should be adding a foliar fertilizer to that field pass, he asks.

Breimer also notes the importance seed size plays in soybean yield. He says proactive management of pods on the key nodes also allows growers to take advantage of bigger beans. If August rains arrive in time, pods on the  3rd, 4th, and 5th nodes “have the longest time to get bigger.”

That leads Breimer to do more math — 10 bushels from bigger beans and six or seven bushels from the right combination of foliar fertilizer and fungicides. “You’re talking 15 to 20 bushels pretty quick… All of a sudden, soybeans are starting to look like a pretty cool crop.”

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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