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FIRST field tests show resilient soybeans

FIRST field tests show resilient soybeans

FIRST Soybean 2021

Managers for the Farmers’ Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) field tests report better than expected soybean yields.

While weather factors were vastly different across Midwest fields, one common theme for 2021 persisted: Yield results were often better than expected.

Randy Meinsma, who manages southern Iowa test plots for the Farmers’ Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) field tests, said there were only a handful of areas that dealt with detrimental weather impacts, mainly due to drought.

“It’s been surprising and looking really good,” he said. “The only spot I had issues was in the Cedar Rapids area. If you go 30 miles northeast of there, it was good. Go 30 miles to southeast and it was really good.”

He said those conditions led to good soybean yields overall this season, with no major weed or disease issues. One factor he didn’t expect was the actual size of the plant, which caused some issues when harvesting.

“Soybean yields were unexpected,” Meinsma said. “The bean plants were tall — 55 inches tall. Lodging was a big issue this year because of that. All in all, the yields were still really good.”

Corey Rozenboom, who covers the northern portion of Iowa, said this year brought in the highest average yields for the northwest and north central regions for soybeans since the tests began. A few late-season showers gave the crop the final boost it needed to close out the year.

“Soybean plants got new life and started growing again,” Rozenboom said. “I have never seen so many green stems with mature brown pods during soybean harvest as this one.”

Late moisture caused delays for Central Illinois plot manager Nathan Roux, who said some of their soybean fields haven’t been able to be harvested yet. He said green stems have been prevalent, and many farmers are waiting until it’s easier to cut.

“That’s just super hard on equipment,” Roux said. “They don’t cut real nice and make for a long day.”

From what has been harvested, Roux said yields have been better than he might have expected. Vegetative growth was especially strong through his test plots, he said, which has allowed for some stronger performance from his varieties.

There were delays for Jason Beyers, who takes care of northern Illinois’ plots, but they managed to get the crop out in plenty of time as November began. He said with less rain this season, he was pretty impressed with yields.

“I can’t believe the way some of the varieties and hybrids responded, even though they were short on rainfall,” Beyers said. “I think a lot of farmers were actually pleasantly surprised with what they got out there when they started harvesting, because it was not expected to be that good.”

While harvest delays hit Illinois, planting was an issue for Missouri. Bill Schelp, who covers the Missouri test plots, said an unusually wet and cool spring caused a lot of replanting of the soybean crop. He said the planter was hooked up for nearly three months before a June warmup helped him finish the job.

Those delays didn’t translate to a difficult harvest, however, as soybean yields showed a bit more resilience to the tougher season than corn, Schelp said. The soybean crop also withstood some strong storms in the middle of the season, particularly seen in the results from Cairo, Missouri.

“That wind and hail that came through, I had a row of corn plots and bean plots a half mile away from each other,” he said. “The way the beans bounced back, they withstood a lot of that adverse weather better.”

FIRST conducts seed trials throughout the Corn Belt. The soybean results are included in this week’s issues of Iowa Farmer Today, Illinois Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.

Results for other regions may be found at

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