Roundup Ready 2 Yield ™ Lessons Learned From Year Two

As I made my rounds at field days this fall, I often spoke about how interesting it will be to see what Roundup Ready 2 YieldTM (RR2Y) beans did in a year when everything was going right. It would be particularly telling because we just came off a year where most things went wrong. We would now have two ends of the spectrum on which we could judge what the new RR2Ys were capable of.

Once the combines began to roll, we were seeing some big yields. There were high 60’s, some 70’s, and 80+ in the better test plots, which was a big switch from the prior year.

Figure 1 - Traditional Roundup Average Yields
Figure 1 – Traditional Roundup Average Yields

Did the RR2Ys deliver? Before answering that question, I want to first look at the traditional Roundup Ready® lines. Their rise was pretty impressive from the prior year. They had an average gain of 23% more yield from the prior year (Figure 1). This does not come as a surprise. Most of the time soybeans set more pods than they can fill, and stresses slowly cause pods and seeds to abort until harvest. In a year without
high stresses, soybeans should really stretch their yield.

RR2Ys did stretch too, but only by 13% (Figure 2). Keep in mind they started at a higher level of yield from the prior year. Most of them being in the mid 50’s instead of the mid 40’s that the traditional Roundup’s started at.

Looking at averages over this year and last, we can draw the conclusion that in really good conditions the traditional Roundups can keep up. What should be factored in is how often this happens. Years like this past year are not common. Also, the traditional Roundup beans are only keeping up – not beating the RR2Ys. Meanwhile, under stress conditions the RRY2s definitely perform better than the traditional Roundups.

Figure 2 - RR2Y Average Yields
Figure 2 – RR2Y Average Yields

Things start looking dimmer for traditional roundups when you add the new RR2Ys into the mix. Despite exceptional performance, we have RR2Ys beating the traditional Roundup Ready® soybeans pretty soundly.

With these results, the RRY2s appear firmly established. We will continue breeding
to bring even stronger varieties onto the market. The Group 0 market is still very sparse for candidates. The late Group II and early Group III has RR2Ys on top, but not yet showing the large yield margins we expect.

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