Claire M.-P. Venard, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY and Joshua R. Duckworth, Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Soybean acreage in the United States has increased to about 76 million acres since the introduction of the crop as seed crop in the 1930s. In Kentucky, production in 2015 totaled 88.7 million bushels, produced on 1.81 million acres. Soybean production in Kentucky represents an estimated value of approximately 816 million US dollars. To maintain the position of soybean as a profitable enterprise, production efficiency must be increased through higher yield per acre. This can be accomplished in part by using well adapted, superior yielding varieties. Soybean varieties for full production in the United States are adapted in a band usually no wider than 100 to 150 miles from North to South. This creates the need for soybean varieties to be tested in specific maturity groups. In addition, variations in soil type, day length, climatic conditions, weed population, and disease and insect infestations influence the yielding ability of soybean varieties. Performance data for a particular variety cannot be readily extrapolated from one environment to all other environments. The sources of yield variability are year, location, and genetics. Therefore, to accurately evaluate varieties for a general production area such as the State of Kentucky, the overall mean from a number of tests in different years and locations within the production area is the best indication of varietal performance. The Kentucky Soybean Variety Performance Tests provide an unbiased and objective estimate of the relative performance of soybean varieties in Kentucky. The varieties are evaluated in five performance tests based on their maturity groups, at several locations in all Kentucky major soybean-production regions. Cultivars are entered by soybean growers, commercial companies, and state and federal institutions. Agronomic data and statistically analyzed yield data are released in an annual performance test report by the University of Kentucky Agriculture Experiment Station.