Strategies For Which Soybean Varieties You Should Plant First

Whether to plant early-season varieties first or full-season varieties instead may be a more complicated decision than you think.

Published on: Apr 10, 2012

One strategy for soybean planting is to plant early-season soybean varieties first. The idea is that they will get more time to grow before they begin flowering. Remember that soybean flowering is primarily controlled by day and night length, with temperature as a secondary control. Temperature primarily controls corn development.

The other reason for planting an early soybean variety early might be to catch a good premium. Unless you have a track record with a buyer who always offers premiums in early September for early beans, that may be a hit-and-miss proposition depending upon soybean stocks and the need for the new crop in September to keep crushers running at full capacity.

Strategies For Which Soybean Varieties You Should Plant First
Strategies For Which Soybean Varieties You Should Plant First

There may also come a point if this early spring doesn’t hold and planting is delayed when you might want to reevaluate that strategy, And if it gets real late in the season, say into June, a mid-season might be a better choice than either one you have in your toolshed right now.

“From the data I’ve reviewed, as the planting dates get later, the maturity differences begin to narrow,” says Dan Ritter, a Purdue University Extension ag educator in Newton County. Also with experience in the seed industry, Ritter is a Certified Crop Adviser.

“Roughly that date would be mid-May. So stay with your strategy (planting early-season varieties first) until that time, then switch to mid-season varieties.

“However, evaluate the financial side as well. How much are you gaining on an early premium? Yield differences of three to five bushels per acre by planting a more adapted variety (for your area) at today’s prices takes a rather large premium to justify.”

What you need to know form your seedsman is yield potential for the different category of varieties ranked by maturity. With today’s genetics, some so-called ‘early’ varieties still yield very well in adapted areas, even compared to mid-or full-season varieties that you might plant.