Top 10 Tips for Soybean Yields

soy yields
A variety of best management practices increases the opportunity to steadily increase soybean yields. Image courtesy of Bayer/ weber/leifels.

Best management practices (BMPs) go a long way to help farmers secure the best yields and return on investment when planting soybeans. Many experts agree that soybean yields have not yet reached “plateaus,” and opportunity exists to steadily increase soybean yields. While there are many factors involved in achieving the best yields, the following top 10 tips, when used together, can help growers add bushels and profits and wind up with the best soybean outcomes:

  1. Variety selection – Select soybean varieties and maturity groups that fit your individual fields and area for highest yield and return on investment. The process of selecting soybean seed varieties requires careful thought and evaluation.

  2. Genetics – Use newer, commercially available soybean varieties with built-in herbicide tolerance and disease- and insect-resistance traits for pest management. Combine new soybean genetics with your tried-and-true. Make modifications based on your previous growing season results as well as your neighbors’ choices, outcomes and assessments. Also, consult your seed dealer and review recent university Extension variety research trials in your area. 

  3. Seed treatments – Protect your seed investment with a professionally applied seed treatment containing fungicides, insecticides and nematicides. Seed protection is an easy, economical input for risk management to 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. Later, weeds are more difficult to control and compete with soybean seedlings for soil, sunlight, water and other nutrients, ultimately robbing yield. Aim to control weeds before they reach 3 inches in height. If weed escapes happen, stay clean with an effective postemergence herbicide.

  5. Soil testing – Test soil fertility levels and soybean cyst nematode populations annually or at least every other year during the fall.

  6. Fertilization – Ensure your soybean fields have sufficient nitrogen levels to reach full yield potential. Different levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are required for soybeans than for corn or wheat, but each crop needs all three nutrients for maximum yield. Don’t rely on potassium, phosphorous or nitrogen applied before corn the previous year to be enough for soybeans the following growing season.

  7. Planting – Plant soybeans early and choose varieties from maturity groups that fit local environmental conditions. Yield reduction of 0.2 to 0.5 bushels per acre per day may occur when soybeans are planted late. Plant soybeans in rows narrower than 30 inches to help canopy closure, take advantage of sunlight and help force out weed competition.

  8. Seeding Rates Gauge seeding rates according to planting time. Typically, seeding rates should range from 140,000 to 160,000 soybeans seeds per acre. 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.


Bayer Solutions for Soybeans

Bayer offers a broad portfolio of season-long products to help soybean growers achieve the highest possible yield and grain quality. 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.

Integrated Weed Management

Bayer has a broad portfolio to combat tough-to-control and resistant weeds.* A well-thought-out herbicide program, using multiple sites of action and nonchemical practices, should be implemented. 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 best results.

Bayer offers soybean growers season-long weed control options, starting with the decision to purchase LibertyLink® soybeans. LibertyLink soybeans are widely available in 80 different soybean brands, including Credenz®. This year’s soybean herbicide program allows growers to start and finish clean with the inclusion of a full lineup of Authority and Anthem branded residual herbicide products combined with the powerful control of Liberty® (10) herbicide and finishing with Autumn™ Super (2) in the fall after harvest.

Liberty is THE non-selective post-emergence herbicide that still effectively handles grasses and broadleaf weeds including glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranthgiant ragweed, marestail, waterhemp and kochia.  And it is convenient to use and neighbor friendly, saving you time, risk, and giving you peace of mind. 

To learn about proper application tips, visit S.T.O.P. weeds with Liberty.

As Bayer anticipates the needs of farmers in the future, the company continues to invest in developing leading-edge technologies such as Balance™ GT soybeans and Balance® Bean herbicide.**

To learn more about using herbicides with effective modes of action, refer to the Herbicide Resistance Management Guide. To explore the recommendations of Respect the Rotation™, the Bayer resistance management program, contact your local Bayer sales representative or talk to your regional agronomist.

* Not every product is suitable for every situation, and correct application techniques will ensure the best results.

**Balance Bean is not yet registered for sale or use in the United States. Balance GT, developed in collaboration with MS Technologies™, is deregulated in the United States and authorized in some key importing countries. Additional international authorizations are pending.

Soybean Disease Management

A well-thought-out disease-management program, including best management practices, proper seed protection and selection and fungicide applications using multiple modes of action, should be implemented to sustainably manage diseases. The following Bayer solutions are valuable tools to consider for your program.

Disease-tolerant seed traits, specific to soybean growers, can be found in Credenz® soybean seed. Credenz can provide built-in protection against stem canker, frogeye leaf spot, Phytophthora root rot and sudden death syndrome (SDS), plus multiple herbicide-tolerant traits and nematode control. When followed by timely fungicide applications, Credenz soybeans are best protected against yield-robbing diseases.

A fungicide seed treatment can provide a healthy start for seedlings. Multiple fungal pests can impact soybean seeds and seedlings immediately after planting. EverGol® Energy SB can protect against fungal pathogens that cause the most damage, such as Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium spp and Pythium spp. In cool and damp conditions, ILeVO® soybean seed treatment from Bayer protects against the fungus causing SDS in soybeans. ILeVO is an important risk-management tool for growers to protect against SDS. The disease is a serious threat from the time the seed starts to germinate to throughout the growing season. A soybean field may look healthy one day and startlingly bad the next. With the above-ground symptoms appearing so far into the growing season, replanting is not an option. Additionally, because SDS can occur as a disease complex with soybean cyst nematode (SCN), planting soybean seed treated with Poncho®/VOTiVO® will help protect seedlings against nematodes and certain insects during the critical early development stage.

Also, timely fungicide applications, including foliar fungicides, help protect soybean plants from fungal diseases throughout the season. For farmers, a fungicide decision is a matter of considering production needs, past history in each field, commodity prices, proper timing and risk management.

Stratego® YLD fungicide features the latest in triazole technology combined with strobilurin chemistry for soybeans. Offering two modes of action, it provides both preventive and curative benefits and systemic movement to provide broad-spectrum, long-lasting disease control and higher yield potential. Trials show that when applied at early flowering, around growth stage R3, Stratego YLD can deliver an average yield increase of 3.25 bushels per acre over untreated soybean fields. For cost efficiency, fungicides can be tankmixed with insecticides and applied in the same trip across the field.

Bayer also offers Proline® fungicide to help farmers manage diseases in soybeans. It suppresses white mold and offers an effective management tool for resistance against various diseases. Proline can be used in a program with Stratego® YLD.

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 preventative 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. The Bayer portfolio of seed treatment products offers the best seed-applied solutions, including seedling disease protection and early-season insect and nematode control, available on the market today.

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 large spectrum protection against nematodes. Poncho, the systemic insecticidal component, is absorbed by new roots immediately, providing control of many critical early-season insect pests. VOTiVO, with its unique bacterial strain that lives and grows on young roots, creates a living barrier that prevents damage from all soilborne nematodes, including soybean cyst nematode. This dual protection results in healthier plant establishment and a more uniform crop, positively impacting yields.

Another option for growers to control insect pests in soybeans is Baythroid® XL, a pyrethroid, which performs on a broad spectrum of insect pests with fast knockdown and long residual control. Baythroid XL may be used throughout the growing season; however, application timing should be based on careful scouting and local economic thresholds.

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 in a way that allows it to reach the underside of the leaves. It also safeguards plants from environmental stresses and can be applied in a tankmix with a fungicide.

*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.


Visit our soybean section for information on a portfolio of products from Bayer to help soybean growers maximize yields and protect their soybean crops or contact your local Bayer representative.

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