This past fall the national soybean yield record was broken by Georgia farmer, Randy Dowdy, who raised 171 bushel soybeans.  I was fortunate this past winter to hear Randy Dowdy speak about his pursuit of higher corn and soybean yields.  If you haven’t checked out his website, it’s certainly worth perusing at  In listening to Randy, who by the way is very transparent on many of the techniques he is utilizing to achieve record breaking corn and soybean yields, I was reminded of an article I read by University of Illinois Agronomist, Dr. Fred Below, entitled “The Six Secrets of Soybean Success”.   Dr. Below through his years of research has compiled a list of 6 key factors in increasing soybean yields.  Many of these factors same factors were discussed by Randy as well.

Weather- Weather has one of the greatest impacts on soybean yields, specifically soil moisture and planting date.  DuPont Pioneer Scientists conducted a three year soybean planting date study and discovered late April and early May planted soybeans had the highest yield compared to later planting dates.  The yield increase was attributed to the timing of soybean development stages and day length.

Fertility- This really should come as no surprise.  Extra fertility to help feed the soybean plant throughout the entire growing season is crucial, especially phosphorus.   One product we are conducting trials on this year is a foliar product, Hype, from Innova Performance Products.  Hype, applied with your post application in soybean (V2-V4) provides additional N, P, K and micronutrients as well as phytohormones , a stress reliever and sugar.

Foliar Protection- Fungicides and Insecticides also play a big part in achieving higher soybean yields. There are many products available to help protect your soybean yields from insects and disease.  Growers utilizing a product like Bayer’s Stratego YLD have seen great results especially when combined with a foliar product.

Genetics/Varieties- The varieties you plant can have a big impact on your quest for higher yields.  From a maturity standpoint, research has shown later maturity soybeans perform best when planted early (Late April/Early May).  From a disease package, understanding the potential issues with SCN, SDS, white mold, etc. is crucial to maximizing higher yields.

Row Arrangement- There has been many studies conducted on soybean row spacing and yield.  The summary in short, narrow rows outperform wider rows.  The yield difference between 30” rows and 20” rows was 2.9 bushel to the acre difference when planted in 20” rows.

Seed Treatment- Seed treatment certainly plays a big part in yield and field emergence.  For those who remember the days of planting non-roundup, non-treated soybeans can also remember soybean stand succumbing to rhizoctonia, pythium in wet years.  With today’s seed treatments, growers need to understand not all seed treatment are created equal.  Make sure your seed treatment includes a fungicide, insecticide, biological and inoculant.

For more in-depth information on Fred Below’s “Six Secrets to Soybean Success” see the link below.

References – Soybean Planting Date

Corn & Soybean Digest – Go Narrow Rows to Win

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