2017 was a great year to grow soybean. We set a new record for average soybean yields in Virginia and most were generally happy with their soybean crop.
Although we did not break Keith Brankley’s 2012 Virginia record of 109 bushels per acre (and this was not irrigated), we did induct 3 new members into the 100-bushel club with the help of irrigation. We also inducted 3 new members into the 90-bushel club and 4 new members into the 80-bushel club without the aid of irrigation.
I invite you to the Virginia Grain and Soybean Conference to share in their success and maybe get a few pointers on how to be the first inductee into the 110-bushel (or greater) club in 2018.
Below are a list of winners:
3rd place – Patti Craun with 66.8 bu/A using Pioneer P46T30X
2nd place – Kevin Craun with 67.2 bu/A using Pioneer P46T30X
1st place – Steve Smith with 72.3 bu/A using Channel 4916RX/SR
3rd place – Michael Downing with 92.6 bu/A using Asgrow AG45X6
2nd place – Stephen Ellis with 93.8 bu/A using Axis 3916NR
1st place – Curtis Packett with 96.2 bu/A using Asgrow AG4135
3rd place – Steve Hudson with 100.8 bu/A using Channel 4916R2X/SR
2nd place – Jonathan Hudson with 101.5 bu/A using Channel 4916R2X/SR
1st place – Frank Hula with 104.2 bu/A using Local Seed Co. TS3959R2S
It was a challenging harvest season, but we harvested our last plot today. Yields were very good, ranging from the upper 40’s to upper 70’s. Across all maturity groups in our variety tests, full-season yields averaged 63.3 bushels/acre and double-crop averaged 60.0 bushels/acre.
Virginia soybean are now predicted to average 45 bushels/acre, a new state record. We are just shy of the predicted national average. Over the last 20 years, we have been increasing yields at a rate of 0.6 bushels/acre per year. This is quite a feat! While better genetics are part of this increase, I think that most of the increase is coming from better overall management of the crop. This management includes long term (e.g., better soil quality, etc.) and short term (e.g., timely planting, etc.).
Of course, we cannot forget the weather. It was relatively cool during the critical pod and seed development stages. More importantly, rain came at the right time.
2017 Virginia Soybean Variety Results
Below are some preliminary results to our soybean variety tests. I caution you that these are preliminary – some changes could still be made. But, I feel pretty good about the data presented here. Some double-crop data from Orange and Painter is still outstanding due to variability. We will be trying to determine its cause and have those data available ASAP.
Today is the first day in 2 weeks that we’ve been able to harvest due to weather and a combine breakdown. So, we are not that much farther along in getting variety test data to you than we were last week. However, I hope to get out some preliminary data by Thanksgiving.
Last week, I indicated that certain relative maturities do better in some parts of Virginia than others. This week, I I’ll get a little more specific and discuss choosing the best variety for a given yield potential.
First and foremost, I will continue to emphasize that variety selection should be based on multi-year multi-site data. Basing your selection on a single test (maybe closest to you) and single year is a recipe for failure. However, I don’t necessarily recommend always choosing a variety based on average yields over site-years – although a very good place to start. This may seem a little contradictory, but let me explain.
Certain varieties do better under high-yielding environments. I like to call these “racehorse” varieties. Choose such a variety if you want to win a yield contest. Other varieties may yield more than others under stressful conditions. I refer to these as “workhorses”. And there are some that tend to do well, regardless of the yield potential – I’ll call these “quarter horses” (quarter horses can run very fast for short distances and you can still ride them long distances over quite rugged terrain).
Last year, we analyzed 5 years of variety test data and classified all varieties that we tested as one of the above. Examples of our results are shown below. The graphs represent the yield of a single variety versus the yield of all varieties tested at that site and year. Each symbol represents a different site-year.
To summarize, the vast majority of varieties are neither racehorses or workhorses; they perform equally in all yield environments. So, averages will work just fine in most cases. But, if you know you have a great- or poor yielding soil or if you are irrigating, then you may want to look into those varieties that fit that situation.
We have all of these data in an excel spreadsheet. If interested, let me know; I’ll be happy to share upon request.
Virginia Soybean Variety Test yield data are now available and can be found at my website – Virginia Soybean Extension & Research.
If you have comments or questions, please contact me.