Shawn Conley, Soybean and Wheat Extension Specialist
Over the last decade I have noticed a subtle shift across much of the northern soybean growing region towards planting later maturity group soybeans. This shift, either conscious or unconscious, may be attributed to earlier planting dates, relatively favorable fall harvest windows, and the drive for maximum yield as influenced by high commodity prices. As with all trends sooner or later, we have a correction year: 2014 was that year for many farmers. As farmers, consultants, and the battered and bruised seed suppliers sort through the plethora of product offerings for 2015, a common question arises: “In 2015, how much weight should we really give to maturity group in these seed decisions?”. For those of you with short attention spans like me, the short answer for soybean is not much….for the rest of you please read on to understand my reasoning.
In 2011, the WI Soybean Research Program published an article in the journal Crop Management entitled: “Optimal Soybean Maturity Groups for Seed Yield and Quality in WI” (Furseth et al, 2011). In this data set we looked at 893 varieties across 6 growing seasons (2004-2009) and three production regions in WI . Within each region we identified the optimal maturity group range for maximum yield. Those were 2.6-2.9, 2.1-2.4, and 2.0-2.2 for our southern, central and north central regions respectively. After I make this provocative statement this is usually where the audience either falls asleep, starts texting their neighbor about the lame and inept speaker (me), or uses the restroom and fails to hear as the great Paul Harvey would say ……the rest of the story.
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