This post highlights material covered in a breakout session sponsored by Helena Chemical Company at the recent ILSoyAdvisor Field Days. To see other posts in this Field Days recap series, click here.

Avoid setbacks in maximizing your soybean yield by optimizing your production practices. It’s important to recognize that soybeans respond positively to timely management practices. Use a soil test at least every four years, and fertilize to feed your crop in order to meet your yield goals.

Start with a strong fertility base applied before planting. Consider the differences in fertilizer need and use between corn and soybeans. Normal 2-year programs applied in front of corn don’t leave enough fertilizer for the soybean crop that follows, especially if you’re striving for 60-plus bushel beans. Likewise, the smaller root structure of soybeans means that plants explore less soil volume and therefore require a plentiful supply of nutrients nearby.

Soybean nutrient uptake increases dramatically during later growth stages. Be aware that while growth rate appears to be unchanged, soybean plants require significantly more nutrients in the late season to set more pods and promote seed fill.

Combine this focus on fertilization with seed treatments that will promote emergence. Plant early and protect against seedling diseases to increase seedling stand and survivability. Early emergence results in more nutrient uptake over the growth cycle, causing plants to bear more pods and produce higher yields.

Greg Willoughby is the technical manager of Helena Chemical Company’s northern business unit. Contact him at or 317-294-2603.

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