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2020 Soybean Seasonal Summary

2020 was an exceptional year for many Ontario soybean growers. Although not all regions had good yields, much of the province harvested outstanding soybeans. The overall provincial average will likely be a record in 2020. In several cases growers were able to achieve over 80 bu/ac. With 65% of insured growers having reported to date, the provincial average presently sits at 53 bu/ac. The 10-year average for those reported acres is 47 bu/ac. The previous highest yield was in 2018 at 51.4 bu/ac. What also made 2020 exceptional is the high prices that materialized this fall. It’s not often that both high yields and high prices occur at the same time. For those that were able to harvest a good crop and sell at excellent prices, 2020 will be remembered as one of the most profitable soybean growing seasons to date.
Although much of June and July was very dry, for those that received rain in August these dry conditions actually helped the soybean crop. Early season dry conditions drive roots deeper and minimizes diseases that prefer moist conditions, such as pythium and white mould. These deeper roots are then able to pick up more nutrients when the plant needs them the most, in August. Good root development, low disease pressure, rain in August and high solar radiation levels (sunlight) all worked together to achieve good yields in 2020. For those that missed August showers, yields were below average. An open fall meant that most soybeans were harvested early enough for timely winter wheat seeding.
Plant Stand Establishment
Although a perfect plant stand is not as critical for soybeans as it is for corn, higher soybean yields are often associated with more uniform plant stands. There are numerous factors that influence emergence, including planting equipment, seed quality, crusting, temperature, and planting depth, among others. Research trials from 2020 highlight the importance of proper planting depth. Due to the high-water demand of soybean seed to germinate, it’s recommended to plant soybeans at least ½ inch into moisture. This often means a total seeding depth of at least 1.5 inches. Some growers prefer to plant soybeans 2 inches or deeper even if moisture is present. 2020 trials showed that the best plant stands were achieved from planting less than 2.0 inches deep, if adequate moisture is present.
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