How do we impact soybean yield now?
First, we have to talk about where soybean yield comes from. Yield is just an equation of number of pods x seeds per pod x weight per seed. Yield increases or decreases oc cur when increasing or decreasing one or more of these three components. Average soybean plants have 12-20 nodes on the main stem, with 1-3 clusters of flowers at each node, and 6-12 flowers per cluster, equaling 72-720 flowers per stem. 60-75% of all soybean flowers abort and never contribute to yield.
Ross Bender and Fred Below report through their research that the middle 7 nodes of a soybean plant constitute between 50% – 60% of soybean yield. Supplemental fertility increases yield in middle and top canopy. Number of beans per pod increases from bottom to top of canopy, most likely resulting in greater light interception. Fertilization improves pod set and seed weight in bottom and middle. Foliar protection lengthens effective filling period, increases seed weight, and mostly benefits top nodes, which improves yield.
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