In a perfect world, the soybean plant would pop up out of the ground, grow some leaves and then really stretch a bit before setting where that first pod will form.
The reality for many western Canadian farmers, however, is that even in a decent year, our Prairie springs are quite cool — first pod height is partially controlled by genetics but is largely controlled by early growing conditions. Cool conditions are conducive to slow and low growth, which isn’t exactly ideal for first-pod set.
In this audio version of the Soybean School West, Dennis Lange, farm production advisor with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, explains the factors that influence pod height and the few aspects of soybean production that are within your control as a farmers. Most importantly, managing for pod height is more about planning ahead for harvest — a little legwork now may mean conserving two bushels an acre (or more, depending on conditions) come harvest.