2005 was a successful year for the Louisiana Soybean Research and Verification Program (LSRVP). In six fields, which encompassed over 250 acres, we averaged 50 bushels an acre.

In the last 11 years for the LSRVP, we have averaged 41.57 bushels per acre, a 12.12-bushel an acre increase over the state average of 29.45 during the same time. Since 2001, soybeans yields have increased substantially and the state average for the past five years is 33.4 bushels an acre. This is encouraging news, and I hope this trend continues.

For 2005, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, we have set a new yield record for Louisiana soybean production at 35 bushels an acre. This is very encouraging and something to be proud of. There are many reasons yields are rising, and the LSRVP could be playing a small role in the increases.

Why are yields higher in the LSRVP fields? I will try to answer that question at the Tri-State Soybean Forum Jan. 6 in Delhi, La. I will present a Mid-South verification presentation taking data from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. From this data set, we will have information on planting dates, maturity groups, row spacings, plant populations, raised and flat beds and, of course, yield.

In all three states’ verification programs there are some definite recommendations and yield improvements over the past 10 years.

In the six LSRVP fields this year, the following yields were harvested (we do not yet have economic data):

Acadia Parish — We worked with Glen Simon and Barrett Courville. The variety, Terral 49R12, yielded 57.5 bushels an acre. The key in this field is that we got the beans planted on rows, which kept them dry during the ample rain we received early in the season. These rows also facilitated irrigation during seed-filling. I am convinced that for southwest Louisiana, raised beds or rows are overlooked as a yield-enhancing strategy.

Avoyelles Parish — We worked with Tommy Laborde and Carlos Smith. The variety, Asgrow 5903, yielded 33 bushels per acre. This field had good growing conditions early on but struggled for moisture with the drought during seed-fill. That affected final yield. This field did not have access to irrigation.

Concordia Parish — We worked with Lynn White, Jason Tiffee and Glen Daniels. The variety, Terral 4890, yielded 62.5 bushels per acre. This field had exceptional growing conditions that influenced yield favorably. It was also very intensely managed.

East Carroll Parish — We worked with Ken Fairchild and Donna Lee. The variety, Delta King 4967, yielded 86.5 bushels per acre. This field struggled early on with drought stress, but we waited to irrigate until the root system was well-established. During the reproductive stages of growth, the weather improved and we continued to irrigate; this aided final yield.

Jeff Davis Parish — We worked with Kevin Berken and Allen Hogan. The variety, Terral 5998, yielded 37 bushels an acre. This field was the furthest south, about 10 miles south of Jennings, La. We had moderate to favorable conditions, but the disease pressure was highest in this field. We cut the field after Hurricane Katrina, which had some impact on final yield.

Richland Parish — We worked with John Owen and Keith Collins. The variety, Terral 4890, yielded 24 bushels an acre. This field was a heavy clay “Buckshot” soil type we were supposed to bed up; because of weather, we had to plant flat. This is where the struggle began. We had a decent stand but not the population needed. An early drought and lack of weed control because of herbicide timing (caused by weather) played a role in reducing the yield. This does happen occasionally, and once you get behind, you really cannot catch up.

For 2006, our plans for the program are much the same. We are planning LSRVP fields in the following parishes: Natchitoches, St. Landry, Pointe Coupee, Concordia, West Carroll and Avoyelles.

In the LSRVP, we let the producer choose the variety, with the stipulation that it has to be a recommended variety. After the field is planted, we visit each field weekly for analysis and recommendations. If you would like to be involved, please contact your county agent.

David Y. Lanclos is the soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist at LSU AgCenter. e-mail: dlanclos@agcenter.lsu.edu