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Maximize soybean yields with these tips

Ag News Wire
By Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. PAUL, Minn. (4/19/2010) —Minnesota producers have been disappointed in soybean yields lately. Recent springs have been somewhat wetter and late summers have been somewhat dryer than ideal for soybean production in many parts of the state. An early warm-up this spring may be a good sign for soybeans in 2010.

Optimistic farmers want to know the keys to maximizing yields if the favorable weather holds throughout the season. Since decisions made before planting are the most important choices of the year, what should a farmer do?

  •  Choose the best yielding, full-season variety available. Commercial soybean varieties have very wide ranges of yield potential. Starting with the absolute best genetics available gives the producer the greatest chance of realizing maximum yields. No other single management decision has as much impact on returns as variety selection.
  • Plant as early as soil conditions allow. Although soybeans can produce excellent yields when planted before May 21, planting full-season varieties early in the spring allows these longer varieties to exploit their long seed-filling period. The combination of early planting with the choice of full-season varieties allows the crop to capture the maximum amount of light energy in years when we are blessed by better than average late season conditions.
  • Plant in narrow rows. Soybeans grown in 7 1/2- to 15-inch rows tend to yield around 10 percent (5 bushels per acre) better than soybeans produced in 30-inch rows. While excellent soybeans can be produced from wide rows, narrow rows will yield more soybeans in nearly every situation.
  • Don't waste dollars needlessly. Additional products, treatments, coatings and enhancers commonly sold to soybean farmers only rarely increase soybean yields. Investigate potential gains from these products and try them on limited acreage. And although many producers continue to plant at very high seeding rates as insurance against poor stands, research demonstrates that 100,000 plants per acre at harvest will provide a maximum yield under most conditions.   

While we do not know what Mother Nature has in store for us this year, this is the time to be optimistic. Plan for high (but realistic) yields, and manage your crop appropriately. Perhaps our dream soybean yields will be realized this year, at last.

For more educational information and tools, visit The website is a cooperative effort among the University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. More Extension information about other commodity crops can be found at

Any use of this article must include the byline or following credit line:
Seth Naeve is a soybean agronomist with University of Minnesota Extension.

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

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