Evaluation of soybean (Glycine max) planting dates and plant densities in northern growing regions of the Northern Great Plains

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Tkachuk, Cassandra
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Soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) planting date and plant density are agronomic decisions made simultaneously at the beginning of the growing season that can be used to maximize yield and economic return. Research on these basic soybean agronomic decisions must be conducted to support the expansion of soybean production in northern growing regions of the Northern Great Plains (NGP). The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of planting dates based on soil temperature on soybean emergence, maturity, and yield for short and long season varieties in Manitoba, and to determine optimum soybean plant density for early to very late planting dates in northern growing regions of the NGP. In the first experiment, calendar date had a greater influence than soil temperature at planting on soybean yield. Soybean yield declined with later planting rather than increasing soil temperature at planting. The earliest planting dates resulted in the greatest soybean yields. In the second experiment, soybean yield-density relationships were responsive to planting date. Yield-density relationships formed early/mid (May 4 to 26) and late/very late (June 2 to 23) planting date groups for combined site years. Early/mid planting dates resulted in greater maximum yields. According to the yield-density model, true yield maximization did not occur for any planting dates and site years within the range of plant densities tested in this field study. Soybean economic optimum seed densities (EOSDs) were much lower than predicted plant densities that maximized yield. Soybean EOSDs were identified as 492,000 and 314,000 seeds ha-1 by marginal cost analysis for early/mid and late/very late planting, respectfully. These values were sensitive to changes in soybean grain price and seed cost. Thus, growers need to adjust EOSDs for changes in price and cost. A combined analysis of soybean yields from both experiments using similar target plant densities determined that a significant negative linear relationship existed between soybean yield and planting date. The greatest soybean yields resulted from early planting and declined by 16 kg ha-1 for each one-day delay in planting from Apr 27 to June 16. However, yield responses varied among site years. The overall recommendation from this study would be to plant soybeans during the month of May at a profit-maximizing seed density, accounting for fluctuating grain price and seed cost.
Soybean, Soil temperature, Planting date, Plant density