Soybean School: Variety choice and population keys to lodging prevention

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When soybean plants lodge, bad things happen.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soybean specialist Horst Bohner says growers are okay with the “power lean” — that’s when pod-laden plants tilt slightly under the weight of their bean bounty.

“But when they start to get close to the ground, and really lean over, you will often see more white mould in there and certainly  other leaf diseases, even pod and stem blight and all those kinds of things.” That’s lodging and it typically adds up to disease, maturity delays and a yield penalty.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Soybean School, we catch up with Bohner at OMAFRA’s Elora research station where he’s assessing lodging in soybean research plots. He says 2023 growing conditions, including a very wet, cool month of August, contributed to considerable plant growth and biomass accumulation. At the Elora site, soybean plots showed up to a 50 per cent increase in biomass, which contributed to a significant in increase in lodging, compared to 2022. (Story continues after the video.)

To help manage the potential of plants lodging, Bohner says growers need to consider several management options, including variety choice, plant populations, and fertility strategy.

Bohner says plant breeders have done a pretty good job of breeding for lodging and standability. He notes that performance trials provide lodging ratings that growers should consider when making variety choices. “If you have a field that has typically tall, lush, beautiful growing conditions for soybeans, you want to make sure you choose a variety that has a good lodging rating.” Growers may have to opt for a bean with a little less yield potential “but you don’t want those beans to lodge. That’s a big problem for us some years,” he adds.

It’s also critical for growers to get their plant populations right, especially in those fields that have a lot of growth potential, says Bohner. He notes that a 160,000 seeding rate is the standard recommendation for 15-inch rows and growers really need to consider how soil and growing conditions can impact the crop and their economic return if they push to higher populations.

In the video, Bohner also discusses nutrient choices and how fertility can impact the potential for lodging.

Tap here for more Soybean School videos.

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