DOWNS, Ill. — Extensive research has been conducted to find ways to push corn’s yield envelope, and soybeans now are joining its field counterpart.

Efforts are ongoing at Beck’s Hybrid’s research locations to fine-tune management practices en route to the 100-bushel per acre level for soybeans.

Beck’s Central Illinois Practical Farm Research is testing two varieties with maturities of 3.3 and 3.7 this season along with numerous other practices.

“With the drought last year, it seemed like the later-season soybeans were able to really take off in comparison to some of the earlier-season soybeans,” Jonathan Perkins, Southern Illinois PFR director, said during a field day.

“The drought really had an effect on them, and they didn’t do as well because they were already starting to shutdown. We’re not only trying to spread out our maturities, but also trying to match that right variety to the right soil type.

“We want to try to get them planted early to get that yield. That way we can have potentially more nodes, more flowers, more pods and hopefully more soybeans and drive us to that yield potential that we’re shooting for.”

Protecting the yield from the beginning also is a main ingredient for success. Beck’s Escalate Yield Enhancement System provides protection with a fungicide, insecticide and biocatalyst.

Perkins said it’s important to “start clean and stay clean” from weeds.

“Start out with a residual product to try to keep the field clean from the start. That way we don’t have weed competition that tries to take us backwards on that potential yield,” he said.

Although there wasn’t any notable disease or insect pressure this growing season, Perkins said fungicides and insecticides also are important to protect the plant.

Nutrient management is a focus of the 100-bushel yield research, as well.

“I have customers that are only running maybe 100 pounds of DAP and 100 pounds of potash ahead of soybeans,” Perkins said.

“That’s OK for the yield goals that we used to shoot for, but if we’re trying to hit these higher-yielding soybeans we have to adjust that nutrient management level a bit higher and feed that plant a little bit more so we’re not restricting its potential so we don’t see that possible potassium deficiency as we know soybeans like potassium.

“We don’t want to short it any as we try to reach this high goal.”

A Y Drop applicator was used to place additional fertilizer directly on the rows. Micronutrients also were utilized.

“We also have a V3 Cobra application where we’re trying to get those nodes shortened and have more sites for those flowers, pods and beans to eventually develop, so we’re trying to really stack those nodes by hitting them with Cobra at the V3 application timing,” Perkins said.

The research includes applying 60 pounds of nitrogen pre-plant.

“There’s a little controversy on this. Some people might say that it causes the nodules to be lazy so they don’t product nitrogen, but we’re trying it out and see what happens by getting a little bit of nitrogen out there early,” Perkins said.

“We’ll try to see if it is able to drive a little bit more potential to start with before we develop those nodules and they can start producing their nitrogen on the plant.”

The importance of drainage was evident this past spring and is another piece of the high-yielding soybeans puzzle.

“There have been numerous fields that I’ve looked at where it was tiled, and it may not have been a replant situation, but where it wasn’t tiled that ended up being a replant situation,” Perkins said.

“Where we have good drainage, it gives us the best potential to get that stand established and give us that high yield potential that we’re shooting for.”

A similar 100-bushel study conducted during last year’s drought resulted in average yields of 77.2 to 78.1 bushels per acre for two Beck’s varieties.