Soybean School: Stick with adapted varieties when planting is delayed


Spring 2019 will be remembered by Ontario soybean growers as one of the toughest they’ve ever tackled.

Unprecedented rainfall delayed planting, with the majority of soybeans being planted in June, and some acres having to wait until July. For some growers, those early rains were followed by a dry summer and then the rain and snow arrived at harvest.

But despite all the challenges, Ontario’s soybean growers and their crops have shown tremendous resilience, says Horst Bohner, soybean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The best evidence of this is the province’s 2019 average soybean yield, which hovers around 44 bu/ac with about 40 per cent of the acres reported.

Given the circumstances, the yield number is incredible, according to Bohner, noting that the 10-year-average for those same acres is 47 bu/ac. He expects the number to push a little lower as more yields are reported, however, it will be much higher than expected given planting conditions.

Bohner notes the first reason for lower expectations was late planting. Researchers and growers have learned that early planting and long-season varieties are a recipe for higher yields. But with poor spring conditions delaying planting anywhere from three to six weeks, many growers opted to switch to an early-maturing variety. Did they make the right choice? Would sticking with an adapted variety have been a better choice?

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Bohner looks back at the 2019 season and shares results of of planting timing trials conducted at Ridgetown, St. Thomas, Bornholm, and Elora, Ont. What the research shows is this crop does not have to be planted early to deliver strong yields. (article continues below the video.)

The general rule in Ontario is that growers should consider switching to shorter-season varieties once planting is delayed past June 15. In the 2019 trials, early-maturing, adapted, and long-maturity soybeans were planted in two time windows — June 4 to 12 and June 18 to 22. The results showed that when planting is delayed past June 15, an adapted variety is still the best choice, he notes. In the trials, the adapted variety produced almost an identical yield for both planting periods — 59.1 bu/ac for June 4 to 12 compared to 58.9 bu/ac for June 18 to 22. Switching to an earlier-maturing variety cost yield.

The trials also indicate that pushing maturities when planting is delayed is not advisable as many of the later-planted, longer-season varieties checked in at more than 18 per cent moisture and matured up to two weeks later.

Read more on the research from OMAFRA’s website by clicking here.

Grow soybeans? Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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