Can Southeast growers, particularly in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, make 70 or 80 bushels of soybeans per acre, or more? Can they do it consistently? Maybe.

“If you don’t try, you aren’t going to get there, but at least we are looking at some things to try and get growers there,” said John Woodruff, retired University of Georgia soybean agronomist.

Woodruff and current UGA Cooperative Extension soybean agronomist Jared Whitaker are using the Expo farm to conduct research trials for high-yielding soybean varieties and cultural practices.

They are using the current UGA recommendations for soybean production in Georgia, but also looking to tweak those recommendations to help those growers who want to swing for the fence with higher average yields.

Interest in soybeans in the Southeast is growing, especially as prices remain higher than in previous years, making the commodity much more appealing to growers. But to really compete with other more established commodities like cotton and peanuts, soybeans need to average high yields to really payoff.

Woodruff notes that soybean growers in Mississippi and Arkansas have in recent years been able to consistently average 10 bushels or more per acre than Deep South growers, mostly by using indeterminate varieties. He thinks this can work for Deep South growers, too. They’ll just have to manage them differently than they are used to.

What are some of the tweaks they are looking at?

1) For early planting, growers need to think about using maturity Group V beans or indeterminate varieties like late MG IV or Early V. For early planting, plan to plant May 10-30 with determinate varieties. Think about using an indeterminate variety for April 25-May 15 planting.

2) Plant in rows 18 inches to 24 inches wide if deep tillage and deep soybean rooting can be attained with planting, and plant to get a final stand of 125,000 to 150,000 plans per acre.

3) Rotate behind corn. Fertilize in fall of the year ahead of soybeans. Plant a rye cover crop. Kill the cover in early March.

4) Pay attention to irrigation to reduce soil moisture stress during flowering and early pod fill.