Soybean School: Why Ontario soybean yields continue to increase


The 2021 growing season was one of challenge and opportunity, and Ontario’s soybean specialist, Horst Bohner, says that it all added up to a record average yield for the province at 51.6 bu/ac over 2.9 million acres.

The record isn’t a surprise, given that early field tour estimations pegged yield potential well above average.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Bohner says that Ontario’s five-year soybean yield is just shy of 50 bu/ac at 49 bu/ac. For the first time ever, a variety performance trial at University of Guelph-Ridgetown Campus averaged 100 bu/ac.

The success isn’t by accident, Bohner says, and credits improved genetics and farmers’ improved management of the crop for the steadily improving crop average. (Story continues below).

2021 wasn’t kind to every region, either. Some areas were very dry during summer or suffered from excessive rainfall events in the fall, lowering yield. Some growers are still working at harvest, as wet ground has not firmed up with the mild temps. There will definitely some added tillage in the mix for many farms who have messes to clean up.

A small percentage of the crop was planted in April, Bohner notes, but the majority of soybeans were planted in the typical mid-May planting window. There has been a trend in Ontario for some growers to plant soybeans before corn. Although planting early often produces higher soybean yields, recent Ontario trials have shown that ultra-early planted soybeans do not necessarily yield better than May planted soybeans. June planted beans usually yield significantly less.

As for challenges, soybean cyst nematode remains the most important yield reducing soybean pest in Ontario. Many growers still consider SCN to be a problem isolated to southwestern counties, but this is no longer the case. High levels are now present in Bruce and Wellington counties, as well as in eastern Ontario.

“Every Ontario soybean grower, regardless of where they farm, should assess their fields for SCN through soil testing,” Bohner says. If SCN is detected, appropriate management strategies can be undertaken to limit yield losses. Yield reductions of up to 40% may be present without any obvious above ground symptoms. If a field has high SCN numbers and no management is undertaken, yield losses can be as high as 80% or more.

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