January 28, 2021

Field Checkup Series: Timely harvest is key to keeping yield advantage of early-planted soybeans

With the favorable planting conditions this spring, many farmers took the opportunity to plant soybeans earlier than normal to try to achieve greater yields.

To preserve the potential of the early-planted soybeans, it pays to keep tabs on soybean health prior to harvest to ensure as many bushels as possible end up in the bin.

Now’s the time to evaluate the status of those early-planted soybean fields to determine the optimum harvest window. The tendency for pods to shatter increases as soybean pods and stems become stressed with diseases, insects and dry weather.

As soybean plants reach full seed R6 growth stage, flowering ceases, pods have developed and seeds are filling pods throughout the plant. Favorable growing conditions during seed fill will not increase the number of seeds in advanced pods; however, stressful growing conditions can affect seed development and seed quality and reduce the number of seeds per pod.

As seeds and pods begin to mature at the R7 growth stage, stress has little effect on yield potential. The moisture of soybeans plays a factor in timely harvest, and farmers typically wait for the sweet spot when soybeans reach 13% moisture. However, if pods drop to the ground or shattering occurs, fewer bushels are likely to be harvested.

As harvest approaches in Indiana, farmers should evaluate soybean fields for grain moisture, grain quality, condition of the pods and the percent of mature pods. Prioritizing fields that are near 100% maturity and have grain moisture close to 13% will help cut grain loss and result in higher yields.

The next few weeks of observations and notes made by Channel Seedsmen can help provide a picture of fall yield potential and set the stage for next season's product selection. Visit channel.com to learn more about the Channel Field Check Up Series and to access more agronomy tips and insights.

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