Achieving 100 bu/acre Yields in Soybeans

Increasing Yields in Soybeans

  • Improvements in genetics and management have driven substantial gains in soybean yields in the U.S. over the past 50 years, at a rate of 0.48 bu/acre/year (Figure 1).
  • U.S. average soybean yields topped 50 bu/acre for the first time in 2016 and again in 2018.
Graph showing U.S. average soybean yields 1970-2018 (from USDA-NASS).

Figure 1. U.S. average soybean yields 1970-2018 (USDA-NASS).

  • 100 bu/acre has often served as a target yield level for farmers seeking to see how high they can push yields with optimized management and the newest genetics.
  • Across all of the on-farm genetic and agronomic trials Pioneer conducts each year in the U.S. and Canada, it has not been unusual for a few entries each year to top 100 bu/acre.
  • In 2018 however, the number of plots exceeding 100 bu/acre increased dramatically. The majority of these plots were planted to new Pioneer® brand A-Series soybean varieties (Figure 2).
chart-soybean-varieties-planted-on-farm-soybean-trials.gif

Figure 2. Series of Pioneer brand soybean varieties used in Pioneer on-farm trial entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Pioneer On-Farm Trial Results

  • A total of 101 on-farm soybean trial entries exceeded 100 bu/acre in 2018, 84 of which were planted to A-Series soybean varieties (Figure 2).
  • 100 bu/acre was achieved with 35 different Pioneer brand varieties from maturity group 2.3 to 5.2 (Table 1).

Table 1. Pioneer brand soybean varieties used in 2018 Pioneer on-farm trials entries exceeding 100 bu/acre

Table listing Pioneer brand soybean varieties used in 2018 Pioneer on-farm trials entries exceeding 100 bu/acre.

1All Pioneer products are varieties unless designated with LL, in which case some are brands

Pioneer® brand soybean varieties topping 100 bu/acre in on-farm trials in 2018 included:

  • 27 varieties with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® Technology
  • 8 varieties with glyphosate tolerance
  • 3 varieties with BOLT® Technology
  • 3 varieties with Peking SCN resistance source (P25A70R, P27A17X, P27T59R)
  • 1 Pioneer® brand Plenish® high oleic soybean variety
  • Yields over 100 bu/acre were achieved over a relatively wide geography from 2013 to 2018 including 17 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces.

Agronomic Practices

  • 100 bu/acre yields were achieved in a range of different environments and with a range of different agronomic practices.
  • Analyses of management practices used in yield contest winners in other crops have produced similar findings (Jeschke, 2019), indicating that there is no single one-size-fits-all formula for achieving high yield potential.

Previous Crop

  • The vast majority of 100 bu/acre plots were planted to corn the prior season - 155 of 168 - while 9 were planted to soybeans and 4 to another crop (data not shown).

Tillage

  • The most common tillage system used at locations with 100 bu/acre plots was conventional tillage, followed by no-till (Figure 3).
Chart showing tillage practices used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Figure 3. Tillage practices used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Closeup photo - green soybean pods in field
Chart showing seeding rate used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Figure 4. Seeding rate used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Seeding Rate

  • Seeding rates used in plots yielding above 100 bu/acre ranged from 110,000 seeds/acre to 200,000 seeds/acre, with an average of 157,000 seeds/acre (Figure 4).
  • Average seeding rate was slightly higher among no-till locations (159,000 seeds/acre) than conventional till locations (152,000 seeds/acre).
  • Seeding rates differed among the four states with the most 100 bu/acre plots:
  • The average seeding rate across Illinois and Indiana locations was 149,000 seeds/acre
  • The average seeding rate across Kansas and Nebraska locations was 170,000 seeds/acre
  • Seeding rates in Kansas and Nebraska are similar to those documented in a larger, multi-year survey of high yield soybean production in these states, which found an average seeding rate of 174,000 seeds/acre (Propheter and Jeschke, 2017).
Chart showing row spacing used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Figure 5. Row spacing used in Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Row Spacing

  • Over half of the 100 bu/acre plots were planted in 30-inch rows with most of the rest in 15-inch rows or other narrow row con-figurations and a few in rows wider than 30 inches (Figure 5).
  • Geographic distribution of row spacing practices roughly corresponded with findings of recent USDA surveys, with 30-inch rows most common from Illinois west and narrower rows more common from Indiana east (Jeschke and Lutt, 2016) (data not shown).

Planting Date

  • Recent research has shown the importance of early planting for maximizing soybean yields (Van Roekel, 2019). Most trial locations with 100 bu/acre plots were planted in the latter half of April through the first half of May (Figure 6).
Chart showing planting date of Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Figure 6. Planting date of Pioneer on-farm trials with entries exceeding 100 bu/acre, 2013-2018.

Other Practices

  • Other management practices employed at locations with 100 bu/acre plots included foliar fungicides, foliar insecticides and supplemental nitrogen applications.
Long view photo - soybean field - midsummer

References

  • Jeschke, M. 2019. Managing Corn for Greater Yield. Pioneer Crop Insights Vol. 29 No. 2.
  • Jeschke, M., and N. Lutt. 2016. Row Width in Soybean Production. Pioneer Crop Insights Vol. 26 No. 12.
  • Propheter, J., and M. Jeschke. 2017. High Yield Soybean Production in the Western Corn Belt. Pioneer Crop Insights Vol. 27 No. 4.
  • Van Roekel, R. 2019. The Importance of Early Planting for Soybeans in the Midwest. Pioneer Crop Focus Vol. 11 No. 1.

Author: Mark Jeschke

March 2019

   

Always follow grain marketing, stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Varieties with the Glyphosate Tolerant trait (including those designated by the letter “R” in the product number) contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate herbicides. Glyphosate herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate.

Always follow stewardship practices in accordance with the Product Use Guide (PUG) or other product-specific stewardship requirements including grain marketing and pesticide label directions. Varieties with BOLT® technology provide excellent plant-back flexibility for soybeans following application of SU (sulfonylurea) herbicides such as DuPont™ LeadOff® or DuPont™ Basis® Blend as a component of a burndown program or for double-crop soybeans following SU herbicides such as DuPont™ Finesse® applied to wheat the previous fall.

DO NOT APPLY DICAMBA HERBICIDE IN-CROP TO SOYBEANS WITH Roundup Ready 2 Xtend technology unless you use a dicamba herbicide product that is specifically labeled for that use in the location where you intend to make the application. IT IS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW TO MAKE AN IN-CROP APPLICATION OF ANY DICAMBA HERBICIDE PRODUCT ON SOYBEANS WITH Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology, OR ANY OTHER PESTICIDE APPLICATION, UNLESS THE PRODUCT LABELING SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZES THE USE. Contact the U.S. EPA and your state pesticide regulatory agency with any questions about the approval status of dicamba herbicide products for in-crop use with soybeans with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Soybeans with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Glyphosate herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba.

P = Plenish® high oleic soybeans for contract production only. Plenish® high oleic soybeans have an enhanced oil profile and are produced and channeled under contract to specific grain markets. Growers should refer to the Pioneer Product Use Guide on www.pioneer.com/us/stewardship for more information

PIONEER® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents.