Improved Profitability with Soybean Variety Testing
Over the past 5 years, Virginia’s soybean crop averaged 592 acres and brought $204 million into the Commonwealth in 2019 (USDA, NASS).
Not all varieties recently offered for sale to the Virginian growers yield similarly; differences between the greatest- and least-yielding soybean variety vary by more than 20% in Virginia. With this in mind, variety performance tests were annually conducted at the Tidewater AREC since the 1980’s.
Dr. David Holshouser is the current leader of soybean variety testing, which includes 150 to 200 varieties each year. These varieties are grown in full-season and double-crop production systems at five locations within the State, where information on lodging, plant height, seed quality and size, and yield are collected annually. Yield data is summarized and distributed electronically to the seed companies, County Agents, and farmers in Nov and Dec; and at winter production meetings. A full report including yield, growth parameters, and seed quality is published every Jan. The most recent report is here VCE Pub. SPES-191 Virginia Soybean Performance Tests 2019.
As a complement to these test and with the assistance from County Agents and soybean farmers, certain soybean varieties (i.e., maturity groups IV and V) are tested on-farm, on large plots throughout Virginia. These large field-scale plots provide additional information and the results are published annually. The latest on-farm variety test data is here VCE pub SPES-182 Virginia On-Farm Soybean Test Plots.
The multi-annual data from these tests are further used to develop predictive models for yield and development of the crop, and to formulate improved agronomic practices for soybean producers in Virginia. An example is here VCE Pub. CSES-197P Predicting soybean reproductive stages in Virginia.
Finally, soybean team assists the State’ s soybean breeder, Dr. Bo Zhang, with testing of patented varieties developed by her breeding program at Virginia Tech.