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What's the key to bigger soybeans?

Looking for the key to bigger soybeans

What if we could have gotten those little beans to grow to the size of the big ones?

Frankly, we have nothing to complain about regarding harvested yields in 2018. Soybean yields were pretty good this year. We made new marks on several irrigated and dryland fields. Rain during grain fill certainly helped.

Even the fields of stunted soybeans I wrote about in August turned out better than expected. Though they fell short of averages in adjacent fields, they were not the disaster we had anticipated. It is likely we will never know what caused these issues; as I said in the earlier blog entry, I think there was a combination of factors involved, quite possibly a perfect storm.

While loading beans this week, I was reminded of the picture I took this fall while taking moisture samples. I couldn’t help but wonder what could have been.

As you can see in the photo above, bean size varied greatly. What if we could have gotten those little beans to grow to the size of the big ones? How many bushels would that have been worth? I’m confident it would have pushed some fields into the century club!

Pod and seed counts taken prior to harvest indicated higher yields; where we missed the mark was on the seeds per pound and filling out those pods. We ran short on something. We had very few aborted seeds or pods, and small beans are better than no beans.

A search for answers

We continue to search for the answers as we review side-by-sides and notes from harvest. I don’t think lack of water was the issue. Was sunlight the limiting factor? Was plant nutrition an issue? Can beans run out of nitrogen? Could compaction have limited uptake?  Would fungicide or insecticide add more bushels? Did other farmers do different and better than we did?

We hope to learn more later this month when we attend Randy Dowdy’s Next Level Camp in Illinois. With a year under our belts, we are starting to get a better grasp on what factors help push grain production. Group data analysis will answer some of these questions for us.

Speaking of the Next Level Camp, we continue to register participants for the Great Lakes camp which is scheduled to kick off January 9 & 10 here in Indiana. We are excited that David Hula has now joined with Randy Dowdy in the Next Level Camps! If you’ve ever heard either of these guys speak, you know they’re down to earth and want to help fellow farmers.

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