6 Surefire Strategies For High-Yielding No-Till Soybeans

Consultant Ed Winkle provides his tried-and-true tips to improve yields at key points in the growing season.

After a tumultuous season in the corn market — including some ethanol plants falling out of favor — producers may want to consider how they can make the most of all their crops, including soybeans.

Ed Winkle, a consultant with HyMark Consulting in Martinsville, Ohio, provided attendees of the 2009 National No-Tillage Conference an array of proven ideas to maximize soybean yields.

Second-Fiddle Crop.

Even as soybean seed has grown more expensive, USDA data shows that soybean yields are falling while wheat and corn yields continue to grow.

Winkle offered several possible reasons for this trend, including that soybeans lack the hybridization of corn; soybean planting and management gets back-burner treatment to corn; and that soybean soil fertility often is misunderstood.

“Corn is still king,” Winkle says. “What do you plant first? Corn or soybeans? Almost everyone I know plants corn first.”

He says that corn getting priority treatment may mean soybeans are planted late or into less-than-ideal conditions, challenging yield potential from Day 1.

Winkle offers producers steps they can take at 6 points in the production cycle to impact yields for the current growing season and seasons to come.

1. Before Planting.

“Fertilize those beans,” Winkle advises no-tillers. “Don’t let them be a scavenger crop.”

Winkle relies on soil tests for initial fertilizer applications and then dials in post-emergence applications — and applications made in the following growing seasons — with information from tissue samples taken when plants reach the first trifoliate stage.

“Seed should be handled like…

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