FIRST trials

Despite early challenges, yields in the FIRST trials were good in southern Iowa, with a manager saying he has not seen any come in under 50 bushels per acre. In Illinois, yields were down 10 bushels on average.

Jason Beyers hoped to be out in the fields, but when he looked outside to see fresh snow in mid-November, he knew it would take a little more time.

“This isn’t what I needed on the last week of harvest,” he said.

Beyers is the Central and Northern Illinois territory manager for Farmers’ Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST), and he said delay issues have been prevalent for much of the 2019 season. Despite that, the results for their soybean tests across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri are in — and the results are better than expected.

In Beyers’ coverage area, he said he was able to finish up all the soybean plots, but was a week and a half behind normal because of the lack of drydown in the crop.

He said yields were down overall, about 10 bushels per acre on average, with many plots coming in between 60-66 bushels per acre.

“The only positive thing about beans this year is they didn’t have as much vegetative growth,” he said.

“They were shorter in stature and plant height, so that made harvest easier.”

From his observations, Beyers said he did not see much in the way of notable disease or insect pressure this year.

Northern Iowa’s Corey Rozenbloom said the year’s wet spring had his area behind schedule by seven to 10 days.

“Normally we like to be planting soybeans the first week of May up in northern Iowa. This year, it was just too wet, and quite frankly, that’s when we had to plant corn,” he said.

Rozenbloom also noted soybeans were being planted into June in some of the areas he covered.

With the moisture, white mold was an issue on soybeans in a few of Rozenbloom’s sites, but he said there were not too many other foliar issues. When all was said and done, his test fields came in with yields around 60 bushels per acre, which he was “pleasantly surprised” to see.

“Our benchmark for high yields was 2016 where we were averaging 70 bushels per acre,” he said. “This year, we averaged 59. Our bar was set a little lower in our minds, but when we got into harvest, it was a pleasant surprise. They weren’t setting records, but considering where we were at in June, it was very good.”

In southern Iowa, the major roadblock has been the need for additional drying, location head Randy Meinsma said.

“It’s been a major challenge,” Meinsma said.

Meinsma said soybean harvest has been wrapped up for a little while, but many farmers is his locations are all dealing with moisture problems. That has led to longer lines at co-ops and in some cases, a shortage of propane.

“They were planted late, so getting them to a decent moisture where you can deliver them has been a problem,” he said. “Elevators weren’t accepting beans at a level of 14% or higher, so a lot of farmers were challenged.”

Yields were good in southern Iowa, with Meinsma saying he has not seen any come in under 50 bushels per acre, and even hearing some reports of up to 80.

“You always look at the stress factors and always predict it’s going to be pretty low, but everyone was surprised the yields were what they were,” he said. “It was amazing what we got.”

Bill Schelp, head of the Missouri and Southern Illinois trials, credited the longer season in those southern locations for helping the soybean crop this year. He said farmers got planted during the final weeks of May and early June.

Overall, the crops “held their own” in the trials, Schelp said, posing less of a struggle than the corn crop this year. Despite the excess moisture this spring, Schelp did not have any excessive disease issues and with timely rains, his sites hit average yields.

“We did have a significant amount of precipitation all year long that helped the bean crop down south,” he said. “Rainfalls really helped to fill out those pods and allow the crop to reach its potential.”

He said only one of his eight sites struggled (eastern Illinois), and that was largely due to missing those rains.

FIRST conducts seed trials throughout the Corn Belt. The soybean results are included in this week’s issue of Iowa Farmer Today, and corn results will be included Nov. 30.

Results for other regions may be found at

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