Soybean maturity selection

Soybean yield is a product of the number of days of seed fill and the rate of fill. The leaves are the plant’s factory so the more leaves, the greater the fill. There are different soybean maturity groups that climb a scale from 000 to 8. As you go up the maturity scale, you delay the signal to the plant to start flowering. There are ten days between each soybean group maturity number.

Mark Licht is an extension agronomist at Iowa State University. He says yield and yield consistency should be number one in your seed decision but selecting for maturity is right up there in importance.

"We have some evidence through Iowa State variety research that I’ve been doing that the longer season, higher maturity groups tend to be a little bit higher yielding than the earlier ones," says Licht. "But maturity is a huge risk management factor that we can play with and help us in making sure that we have high yield potential."

He says by staggering maturities, you won’t have the entire soybean crop going through environmental adversity such as water or heat stress at the same stage of growth.

Another risk management tool using maturity is to spread out the harvesting window.

"If we planted a little bit later maturity a little bit on the back end of our planting schedule, that would mean that it could mature 5-10 days later," he says. "So, we can use maturity to spread out the harvest window so hopefully we’re able to harvest more soybeans in the 13%, 14%, even 15% moisture range versus if they all mature at the same time, then we tend to harvest soybeans that are drier than we want."

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