Farm Progress

Selecting the right varieties can mean as much as 15 bushels an acre.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

January 18, 2018

3 Min Read
BETTER BEANS: Early-maturity beans perform well and may give growers more time to plant cover crops.Jevtic/iStock/Thinkstock

Last week, we shared 9 tips to help you dig deeper into boosting bean bushels, courtesy of Pennsylvania Soybean board. But Greg Roth, Extension agronomist at Penn State University, says that your first “dig” should be into variety trial data. It’s the one thing you have control over.

So if you haven’t yet bought your seed beans, start looking into replicated local and regional variety trial data. “Variety selection can make as much as a 15-bushel difference,” Roth says. And you know what that can mean to your bottom line.

Penn State agronomists conducted the 2017 soybean performance trials on early and late glyphosate-resistant varieties and non-glyphosate resistant varieties. Some 142 varieties were tested at Penn State’s research centers in Landisville, Lancaster County, and Rock Springs, Centre County. Pennsylvania’s soybean checkoff and participating seed companies funded the research.

Not every major seed company participated. Involvement is optional, Roth says. Some declined the opportunity. “We had very good trials at both locations this year with yields averaging around 70 bushels an acre for most tests," Roth says. Results are available at 2017 soybean variety trials.

A closer look at traits
Early-maturity soybeans did well at the Landisville site when planted early, compared to later maturity beans. Variety comparisons were split between maturity group 3.3 and earlier and 3.4 and later. Note: The comparison plots were planted on May 18.

Growers with entries in the state soybean yield contest also confirmed that early maturity beans performed well when planted early, according to Roth. That opens opportunities for early fall-seeding of cover crops.

The Penn State trial data distinguishes between Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Xtend varieties, as well as non-glyphosate trial of conventional, Liberty Link and STS varieties. Seed treatments were also listed for each variety.

Some 24 soybean varieties were involved in a comparison of stacked non-Roundup Ready versus conventional varieties. Yields ranged from 58.1 to 80 bushels per acre, with a mean average of 71.1 bushels.

Several glyphosate-resistant checks were included in each test to compare relative performance. “On average, Liberty Link lines yielded as well or better than glyphosate-resistant lines,” Roth says.

A double crop trial involving 14 varieties was also conducted at the Landisville site. While yields ranged from 37.4 to 44.2 bushels, the mean average was 41.5 bushels. They were planted in 15-inch rows in mid-July following winter wheat and conventional tillage.

Non-yield factors to weigh
The quality of the soybean, not just the yield, is increasingly important to soybean buyers. That’s because protein represents approximately 65% of soybean value; oil represents 35%. However, high-oleic oil varieties may be the exception to the rule.

Samples for most varieties tested were sent to Iowa State (University) for protein and oil analysis. “Our soybeans tend to have higher protein than those produced in the upper Midwest,” Roth says. This year, entries averaged 35.7% protein in the Lancaster trial and 35.9% in Centre County.




About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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