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High soybean yields just out of reach in 2023

Soybeans needed more rain to fill out pods in the MU Variety Testing Program.

Mindy Ward

December 13, 2023

3 Min Read
A close up of soybean pods on a stem
SIZE MATTERS: Smaller soybeans inside pods resulted in lower yields during the 2023 MU Variety Testing Program. Mindy Ward

The soybean pods were there for a high yield in 2023, but the beans inside were too small to make it happen.

“We had enough pods to handle a lot of 65- to 75-bushel beans,” Mark Wieberg says, “but a lot of them turned out to be 40 to 50 bushels because the beans were small. We didn’t get those later rains in a lot of areas that they needed to fill out.”

Wieberg, who manages the MU Variety Testing Program, says soybean yields varied across the state with moisture being a top influencer in outcome.

Rain made yield difference

For instance, near Norborne, the self-proclaimed Soybean Capital of the World, the overall plot yield average came in at 85 bushels per acre. This location produced yields close to levels found mainly in the Bootheel of Missouri.

“That was exceptionally good,” Wieberg says. However, down the road 20 miles was a different scenario.

“At Henrietta, they had a 58-bushel average,” he notes. “It’s a matter of catching some of those late rains, and Norborne had them, which makes a heck of a difference in yield.”

Regional roundup

Here's a quick rundown of conditions surrounding the MU Variety trials testing locations for 2023:

Bright star of the Northern region. By far, this region of the state saw the lowest rainfall totals for the season, with the Canton location receiving just shy of 7 inches of rain. “That plot still had a 70-bushel average for both Group 3 and Group 4 soybeans, and top yields just over 80 bushels,” Wieberg adds.

From first to last in Central region. After a record-breaking corn harvest at the Columbia location, the soybean yields were at the bottom of the MU Variety Testing Program for Group 3, with a plot average of 39.3 bushels per acre, and came in just above the Southwest location in Group 4 at 43.8 bushels per acre.

Struggle in the Southeast. In 2022, the Fisk location saw 13 varieties surpass the 100-bushel mark, with one hitting 112. This year, every variety fell below 97 bushels. Still, this region produced the best Group 4 soybeans in the state with overall plot averages above 70 bushels per acre, and the highest individual yield of 85.2.

Southwest finds mixed results. Soybeans at the Springfield location posted a high of 72.5 bushels per acre, with an overall plot average of 62.4. The location caught a few rains that others missed, Wieberg says. The Urich plot saw only a high of 46.3 bushels per acre and posted the lowest overall plot average in the program at 40.4 bushels.

Browse through the charts below to find the Top 10 soybean varieties in your area from the 2023 MU Variety Testing Program.

A table outlining the 2023 Missouri soybean maturity brand/variety test for the North and Central regions

A table outlining the 2023 Missouri soybean maturity brand/variety test for the North and Central regions

A table outlining the 2023 Missouri soybean maturity brand/variety test for the Southwest and Southeast regions

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About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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