Top 10 Tips for Soybean Yields

image shows soybean harvest into hopperLooking to secure the best yields and ROI from your soybeans? These top 10 tips can help you add bushels and profits and achieve the best soybean outcomes.

  1. Trait selection – Soybean varieties with built-in herbicide tolerance traits can significantly improve management of tough-to-control weeds. Traits for disease resistance can protect your soybeans from yield-robbing diseases. Consider your goals and the history of weed and disease pressures in your fields when selecting traits.
  2. Genetics – The process of selecting soybean seed varieties requires careful evaluation. Select varieties and maturity groups that fit your individual fields and area for highest yield and return on investment. Combine new soybean genetics with your tried-and-true varieties. Base your decisions on your previous growing season results, your seed dealers’ recommendation and any recent university extension variety research trials in your area.
  3. Seed treatments Protect your seed investment with a professionally applied seed treatment, providing protection against early season yield robbers such as fungi, insects and nematodes. Seed protection is an easy, economical input for risk management to help assure your soybean crop gets off to a good start and continues with robust growth leading to strong yields.
  4. Season-long weed control – Start early and continue through canopy closure. Plant into weed-free fields, and use pre-plant and pre-emergence residual herbicides to help your soybean crop start clean. Plan a timely postemergence herbicide application before weeds reach 3 inches in height. If weed escapes happen, apply a second herbicide to support a zero tolerance approach.
  5. Soil testing – Test soil fertility levels and sample for soybean cyst nematode populations annually or at least every other year during the fall.
  6. Fertilization Ensure your soybeans have sufficient nitrogen levels to reach full yield potential. Soybeans produce enough nitrogen for maintenance, but supplemental nitrogen may be needed to achieve higher yield potentials.
  7. Planting – Plant soybeans early. Yield reduction of 0.2 to 0.5 bushels per acre per day may occur when soybeans are planted late. Experts recommend planting soybeans in rows narrower than 30 inches to help canopy closure, take advantage of sunlight and help force out weed competition.1
  8. Seeding rates Gauge seeding rates according to planting time. Typically, soybean seeding rates should range from 140,000 to 160,000 soybeans seeds per acre.1 If planting late, think about increasing seeding rates. Check with your seed dealer or local extension agent for specific recommendations to aid soybean germination and vigor. Always plant certified seed.
  9. Scouting Check soybean fields early and often to look for early-emerging weeds and signs of disease or insects. Follow university extension reports for your area and be prepared to respond proactively.
  10. Resistance management Use diversified management practices to manage resistance to herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Select products from different classes of chemistries that attack multiple, effective sites of action. Refer to sources such as extension and Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC) recommendations. Mechanical and cultural practices such as tillage and crop rotation can also help.

soybean harvest through fieldsIntegrated Weed Management

A well-thought-out herbicide program, using multiple sites of action and cultural practices, should be implemented to manage weeds.

Soybean growers can start with the decision to purchase LibertyLink® soybeans, the highest rated trait platform of the year according to a 2017 independent market research survey. In fact, 97 percent of growers who planted LibertyLink rated it "good" to "excellent."  

LibertyLink soybeans are widely available in 80 different soybean brands, including Credenz®.

The results from the research also found that growers are impressed with the overall performance of Liberty® (10) herbicide and its control of resistant weeds. It was ranked No. 1 by growers for control of the spectrum of broadleaf weeds, and was also rated highly for ease of use and lack of off-target movement.

Recent university research indicates that growers can control weeds and manage resistance by tankmixing more than two effective sites of action. The difference was significant. “A field in which 2.5 MOA per application were used was 83 times less likely to select glyphosate-resistant waterhemp within 4-6 years than a field in which only 1.5 MOA per application were used.”2

Bayer recommends growers start and finish clean with residual herbicides combined with the powerful control of Liberty herbicide and finishing with Autumn™ Super (2) in the fall after harvest.

Liberty is the only working non-selective post-emergence herbicide that effectively handles grasses and broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, false ragweed, marestail, waterhemp and kochia. The active ingredient in Liberty is a Group 10 herbicide, which is the only broad-spectrum herbicide that effectively controls grasses and broadleaf weeds, and it has no known resistance in U.S. broadacre crops.

To learn about proper application tips, visit S.T.O.P. weeds with Liberty. Before applying any herbicide, please read the entire label for the best possible results and to confirm that the product is effective on the weeds you wish to control.

Soybean Disease Management

A well-thought-out disease-management program, including best management practices, proper seed selection and protection, and fungicide applications using multiple modes of action should be implemented to sustainably manage diseases.

Credenz soybeans can help provide protection against stem canker, frogeye leaf spot, Phytophthora root rot and sudden death syndrome (SDS), when paired with best practices for disease management, including timely fungicide applications.

A seed treatment can provide a healthy start for seedlings. ILeVO® soybean seed treatment protects against two top yield robbers: SDS and soybean cyst nematode (SCN). Because SDS attacks at the root first, by the time above-ground symptoms are visible, it's too late to protect against the disease.

Also, timely fungicide applications, including foliar fungicides, help protect soybean plants from diseases throughout the season. Delaro™ fungicide offers unmatched broad-spectrum disease control with a best-in-class dual mode of action residual. Plus, it improves plant health. Apply before disease symptoms appear, between R2 and R5, repeating as needed. For cost efficiency, fungicides can be tankmixed with insecticides and applied in the same trip across the field.

Before purchasing seed, selecting a seed treatment or applying any fungicide, please read the entire label for the best possible results and to confirm that the product is effective on the disease you need to control. Not every product is suitable for every situation, and correct application technique will ensure the best results.

Insect Management

The best approach to managing insect pests in soybean is preventive control. Bayer offers season-long insect control options from seed treatments to foliar insecticide products.*

Starting off with a good seed treatment is an excellent way to control insects and protect soybean plants above and below the ground. Poncho®/VOTiVO® is an excellent seed treatment to help fight against important early season pests, including overwintering bean leaf beetles, thrips, wireworms, seed corn maggots and white grubs, as well as broad spectrum protection against nematodes.

Once the soybean crop is established, growers should scout for insect pest infestations and use Bayer foliar products. Baythroid® XL, a pyrethroid, is active on a broad spectrum of insect pests with fast knockdown and long residual effects.

Leverage® 360 with Stress Shield™ protection enhances the crop’s ability to handle a variety of biotic and abiotic stresses, such as soybean aphids, thereby maximizing yields. Unlike many other insecticides, Leverage 360 moves through translaminar activity to reach the undersides of the leaves. It also safeguards plants from environmental stresses and can be applied in a tankmix with a fungicide.

Bayer Solutions for Soybeans

Bayer offers a broad portfolio of season-long products to help soybean growers achieve the highest possible yield. Read the entire label for best results and to confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Choose the best products to control your specific pests and achieve the best yield outcome. Not every product is suitable for every situation, nor registered in every state, and proper application techniques will enhance results.

For more information about maximizing yields and protecting soybean crops, contact your local Bayer representative.

*Always read and follow label instructions and confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Not all products are registered for use in every state. Baythroid XL and Leverage 360 are Restricted Use Pesticides.

Works Cited

  1. "Wisconsin Best Management Practices Guide." Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.
  2. Hager, Aaron. “Slowing the Evolution of Weed Resistance to Herbicides.” University of Illinois Extension, 2015.

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