, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
Jeff Sloan drops to his knees in the soybean field and commences to counting. This harvest season Asgrow has served up a "five bean pod challenge.” The first 1000 Asgrow Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield (RR2Y) growers to find a 5-bean pod in their field can earn 5 free units of seed if they purchase an additional 120 units for the coming season.
Free seed sounds great to Sloan, but have you ever looked at how many pods are in an entire soybean field? RR2Y soybeans debuted in 2009 on 1.5 million acres across Group II and Group III maturity ranges. Using new insertion and selection techniques, the gene is situated in one of these high-yielding DNA regions. Monsanto claims the genetics bump yields by an average of 7% to 11% over first generation Roundup Ready technology. A full commercial launch is planned in 2010 on 7 to 8 million acres across a broader set of maturity ranges. Monsanto spokesman Ben Kampelman says Genuity RR2Y varieties should be available across a full range of maturities in 2011.
As Sloan discovered in his 5-bean quest, pods containing four beans are not that unusual in these high-yielding soybeans. But it's not long before he's plucks a pod filled with the magic number of beans. "More beans per pod means more beans in the bin,” says Sloan, who farms in the Assumption and Pana, Ill., area. More beans is of little consequence if there are fewer pods per plant, but these soybean stems appear heavily lined with pods.
"It was located around the center of the stem,” Sloan notes. "What I really like to find is a loaded stem that has one or more four bean pods near the top of the plant. It might not seem like a lot of difference, but those extra beans add up to result in more overall bushels,” he says. The field he was hunting in was being raised as seed production and had fungicide and insecticide applied during the growing season.
Sloan, who farms in a family operation with his father and three brothers, says they will be watching the yield monitors closely this fall to select varieties that yield and stand the best. "We don't really spend a lot of time out here searching for five bean pods. We're too busy…especially this year. The wet conditions have us running about a month behind,” he says.
"But I can't help but wonder if there's a six bean pod out there somewhere. I've been told the soybean is capable of six,” he adds.