Plant your Soybeans Earlier in 2021
We’ve done studies across several years testing soybean planting date, all with the same theory in mind. By shifting our soybean planting window earlier, we are able to tap into several benefits, both agronomically, and yield wise. While we’ve gone into depth in these articles, (A Planting Date Study in Soybeans: What We've Learned so Far and Considerations for Early Plant Soybeans) we wanted to break it down into a simple list of some of our top benefits of early planted soybeans.
1. Wider planting window
With a narrow planting window defined by soil and weather conditions, our planting can often be condensed into a few days. When we further restrict that planting window by planting corn and then soybeans, we limit ourselves first to only days that are suitable for corn planting. We might be a little more lenient with soil conditions and soybean planting. By planting some of our soybeans first, we open our planting window up a bit wider and give ourselves some wiggle room for getting it all done.
2. Match with summer solstice
One of the prime reasons for early planted soybeans is to help optimize the number of nodes per plant before the plant switches to the reproductive stage. By planting earlier, more nodes are set (about 1 every 4 days) before day length signals the plant to switch to the reproductive stage and start flowering. This increase in nodes directly correlates with the yield potential of the plant. University studies have shown early planting can result in as many as 10 more nodes per plant and a yield increase of 3-4 bushels per acre.
3. Improved canopy/weed competition
Weed control is critical to mitigating yield loss in soybeans. Earlier canopy shades out competition from weeds and conserves soil moisture and nutrients. This also reduces our reliance on post herbicide applications and gives us a better application window.
There are still risks associated with early plant soybeans. Early season stand loss, cold soils, a late freeze, muddy field conditions. With all those risks in mind, it is important to wait for good field conditions to plant your early soybeans. The added benefits of early plant soybeans are negated if you mud beans in or lose a stand due to a forecasted cold spell. We’ve seen good results from our early season beans the last few years and think you might too. Try out some beans before your corn this year and see what you think! We’d love to hear your results.