Keep the sugar for your coffee and cookies

While we are interested in improving yield of Ohio crops, we also are reluctant to recommend practices that cost time and money and are not likely to be of assistance. From several on-farm trials conducted by OSU Extension professionals over the years, we see no value in applying sugar to our Ohio row crops.

In a 2013 Crawford County trial with 3 pounds of sugar per acre to soybean, there was no yield difference from the check:

In two trials in Clark County in 2013:

• Two sugar sources (sucrose and dextrose) at 4 pounds per acre produced no yield difference from the check

• And for soybeans — sucrose at 4 pounds per acre — there was no yield difference from the check.

For more see:

In a 2014 soybean trial conducted at two locations in Clark Country and in Wood County, Table 1 shows no yield advantage for sugar applied to soybean.

Table 1. Soybean yield after 4lb/A application of sugar at two locations.
Clark CountyWood County


Average Yield bu/A

Average Yield bu/A

Lsd 0.10NSDNSD


In a previous newsletter article written by Shawn Conley, Soybean Specialist at the University of Wisconsin, comparing granulated cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses and blackstrap molasses to a check treatment, he found no yield affect across four locations: His comment on trying foliar sugar applications, “other management strategies to improve soybean yield should take precedence over applying sugar.”

We suggest focusing on the basics of crop production first. With funding from the Ohio Soybean Council, we’ve investigated yield limiting factors in Ohio soybean production. There are many factors that influence soybean yield (i.e., variety selection, planting date, soybean cyst nematode, weed control, etc); however, one factor that has really risen to the top is soil fertility.

From over 550 soil samples collected throughout Ohio between 2013-2015, 35% were below the critical level for soil phosphorus (< 15 ppm Bray P1) and 21% were below the critical level for potassium.

Additionally, we looked at soybean yield from these fields. On average, fields with low soil phosphorus yielded 7 bushels per acre less than fields with adequate soil phosphorus. Fields with low soil potassium yielded 4 bushels per acre less than fields with adequate soil potassium. Before considering untested or unproven inputs, consider inputs that are most likely to improve your bottom line.

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