Selecting “Best” No-Till Bean Varieties

Follow 9 key points in selecting soybeans that work best under your no-tiling conditions.

With collection of high yield trophies and plenty of acres of no-tilled corn soybeans, Dean Holst is a great source of information when deciding on the “right” varieties.

As you might guess, Holst maintains seed selection is very critical to your no-till success, provided it’s customized for your specific growing conditions.

1. Selecting Varieties

“Sometimes the most assuming bean is the best one for narrow rows under no-till conditions,” says the Le Claire, Iowa, no-tiller.

As an example, he cites a soybean variety, Mycogen 5281, that’s a short-ribbed plant, produces little foliage and features a tremendous number of pods growing close together.

2. Run Your Own Test Plots

“I harvested 5281 in my plots several years ago and it’s topped our plots every single year since,” says Holst. “In 1997, we won the Iowa Master Soybean Growers Contest with this variety which yielded 78.79 bushels per acre in an 80-acre field.

“As you would expect, it’s the variety we’re using on most of our bean acres.”

He believes a no-tiller can “glean” an immense amount of education from putting out his own test plots.

3. Stress Yield Consistency

When looking for a soybean variety for no-till, Holst prefers one that offers consistent yields. In his fields during the same year within a 10-mile radius, he’s seen 5281 turn out yields of 71, 72, 73, 73.5, 75, 77, 77, 78, 78, 79, 79.5 and 80 bushels per acre.

“That’s what consistency is all about,” he adds. “I don’t need a yield…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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