The notion of whether it makes sense to plant early or full-season varieties first when you get to plant stirs up lots of decision. Here's a final thought from Traci Bultemeier, an accounts manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred, Ft. Wayne, Ind. She's also an Indiana Certified Crop Advisor.
One reason suggested for planting early season varieties early is that you might catch a premium if you can harvest early in the fall and deliver those soybeans to the elevator when they are in need of soybeans. Others may still want to get soybeans off early to plant wheat. In some situations today, it could be harvesting soybeans early to have a better shot at getting cover crops seeded and off to a quicker start.
Bultemeier suggests that if any of these reasons apply to you, you might consider planting a percentage of acres early to an early-season variety in order to obtain this goal, whatever it might be. Remember, too, that the term early planting can take on different meanings, depending upon the year. It may be anywhere from April 15 to May 5.
If you're starting date turns out to be May 15 instead, this agronomist suggests considering moving to a more mid-range maturity variety for your area and planting the early varieties last. That works unless soybean planting gets pushed very late due to weather conditions.
If you're finishing planting soybeans in the middle of June, for example, she suggests moving back to a mid-to-fuller season variety. This allows capture of height for more pods, though you begin running the risk of frost if you push too late with longer-maturing varieties.
"When making that final decision, remember that more nodes equals more seed and that soybeans begin to flower around June 21," Bultemeier says. That flowering date holds more-or-less no matter what that maturity level. That's because length of light and dark triggers reproductive functions in soybeans.