Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 5 Recommendations for Soybean Establishment and Yield

I awoke this morning to the gleeful announcement from my two year old yelling at the top of her lungs "Dad....snow....outside''. I feigned excitement only because I know we are still missing 75 entries for our soybean variety test program (hint hint to those that are delinquent) and suboptimal soil temperatures (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Soil temperature (2") at Arlington WI April 9-15, 2014.
As past experience has taught many of us that live in the "frozen tundra", a WI spring can appear rapidly so here are a few thoughts to mull over before we all get busy and throw recommendations out the window to get those crops in the ground.

1. Planting date matters for northern soybean growers. Dr. Specht et al. from UNL did a very good job discussing "Why planting soybean early improves yield potential".  Furthermore, our recent planting date data is also very supportive of early planting.  Not only have we seen a synergistic yield response with today's genetics to early planting, we also average ~0.36 bu per day cost to delaying planting past the first week of May (please see Figure 2. below).   
Figure 2. Soybean yield response to planting date at Arlington and Hancock WI 2012-13.
2. Use a fungicide and insecticide seed treatment. Given today's seed input costs and commodity price our data suggests reduced economic risk and increased profitability utilizing these inputs.

3. Plant your soybean seed 1" deep. I know I know MSU just came out with new information regarding soybean planting depth, but I am not completely sold on planting early soybean at 1.75 inches in Wisconsin. If it is June 5th, soil temps are 72 degree F, and I am planting to moisture due to drought conditions and no rain in the forecast then maybe I could be convinced.   

4. In short....if rotating with corn no tillage is required!

5. Last but certainly not least, invest in a residual herbicide program for your soybean crop. Not only is it an effective tool for herbicide resistance management (remember we have two confirmed (one suspect) glyphosate resistant weed populations in WI) it also widens the application window for glyphosate and it often provides growers with a positive ROI.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 WI Soybean Yield Contest is Announced

The Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board launches the 5th annual Wisconsin Soybean Yield Contest. The objective of this program is to encourage the development of new, innovative management practices and show the importance of sound cultural practices in Wisconsin soybean production.

Wisconsin soybean growers have until September 1, 2014 to enter the Wisconsin Soybean Yield Contest. Two winners from each of four geographical districts in the state will receive awards (Image 1.).  "Please note the divisional lines were redrawn for 2014 based on a rolling 10 year average yield".   The first place award in each district includes a $1,000 cash prize; second-place honors include a $500 prize. Winners will be selected for having the highest soybean yield based on bushels per acre at 13% moisture. The awards ceremony is scheduled for January 29, 2015 during the Corn/Soy Expo at WI Dells.  

For more detailed information regarding the program and contest rules please visit www.coolbean.info or 2014 Wisconsin Soybean Yield Contest Rules

Entry forms can be found at 2014Wisconsin Soybean Yield Contest Entry Form.

A list of the 2013 winners and a management summary of their practices is also provided. 

For more information please contact Dr. Conley at spconley@wisc.edu. Good luck and have a safe and productive 2014 growing season!

Image 1. Geographic Division Map.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Factors to Consider While Assessing Your 2014 Winter Wheat Crop

As the snow begins to melt and we finally put the 2013/14 winter behind us, many growers and consultants alike are beginning to venture out to their winter wheat fields to assess winter injury. Though it is a premature to make any rash decisions here are a few considerations for assessing your spring 2014 winter wheat stands.
  1. As you look across your wheat landscape vibrant green patches will be interspersed with drab brown areas. The brown areas do not necessarily indicate those plants are dead.
    2014 Arlington WI Winter Wheat Variety Trials
    Growers and consultants can either reassess in a week or pull plants from the field and place in warm environments. Milk houses and kitchens work perfect. Root regrowth will appear from the crown and will appear as vibrant white roots as shown below.
    Spring Root Regrowth in Winter Wheat

    If plants do not recover our critical threshold for turning over a field is 12 to 15 live plants per square foot. Below this threshold is an automatic replant. For more detailed information on assessing winterkill please view Wheat Stand Assessment, Winterkill Yield loss, and Nitrogen Application
  2. Evaluate tiller number and make the N timing decisions. It is important to remember that the functional purpose of spring N is to 1. stimulate tillering and 2. provide crop nutrition. If ample tillering (> 70 tillers per square foot) has occurred growers can delay N applications up to pre-joint (Feekes 4-5; Zadoks 30). This practice will aid in minimizing early spring N loss. Applications of N made after this growth stage may lead to wheel track damage. If growers have < 70 tillers per square foot it is important to get across those fields as soon as possible to minimize yield loss due to low tiller/head counts. For more information on tiller counts and spring N timing please view my YouTube video entitled: Wheat Stand Assessment and Nitrogen Timing.  
  3. Lastly remember that wheat grain in itself is only part of the revenue you capture with winter wheat. The price of winter wheat straw remains strong so please consider that revenue stream before any replant decisions are made.

Friday, March 21, 2014

WSMB Continues Enhanced Nematode Testing Program for 2014

Four out of every five animals on earth today is a nematode so it is not surprising that agricultural fields are home to many nematode species. Fortunately, most nematodes are beneficial to crop growth and soil health because their activities help decompose crop residues and cycle nitrogen and other nutrients. Pest nematodes do not threaten yield if their numbers remain low. The key to avoiding population explosions of nematode pests is to be proactive – know what the situation is and take appropriate measures when nematode numbers indicate a problem is brewing. 

The WSMB sponsors free nematode testing to help producers stay ahead of the most important nematode pest of soybean, the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) (Figure 1). Eggs of SCN persist in the soil between soybean crops so a sample can be submitted any time that is convenient. The soil test report indicates the number of eggs in the sample and is useful for selecting the right variety for the next soybean crop. Retests of fields planted with SCN-resistant varieties over multiple years shows how the nematode population is responding to variety resistance and provides an early warning should the nematode population adapt to host genetics.

Figure 1. WI Counties Confirmed to Have SCN as of 2013.

In 2014, the WSMB is again offering the expanded nematode testing program to include other pest nematodes in addition to SCN. These nematodes are less damaging to soybean than SCN but can cause enough yield loss to warrant treatment. As is the case for SCN, there are no rescue treatments for nematodes so the primary purpose of this year’s soil test is to plan for next year’s crop. Soil samples collected in corn for nematode analysis have predictive value for explaining yield if they are collected before the corn V6 growth stage. Sampling early in the season will provide information about the risk potential for the current corn crop AND the next soybean crop.

The assays used to recover nematode pests other than SCN in soil require that the nematodes are alive. So, it is important to keep the samples moist and at least room temperature cool. Collecting a sample that includes multiple cores ensures that there will be plenty of root pieces to assay. It is not necessary to include live plants in the sample. The soil test report will indicate which pest nematodes are present and at what quantities and their damage potential to soybean and corn based on the numbers recovered. Free soil sample test kits are available now and can be requested at 

For more information on SCN testing and management practices to help reduce the losses from this pest, please contact: Shawn Conley: spconley@wisc.edu; 608-262-7975 or visit www.coolbean.info

Remember the first step in fixing a nematode problem is to know if you have one! The WSMB sponsored nematode testing program provides you that opportunity.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winners of the 2013 WI Soybean Yield Contest are Announced

The 1st place winner in Division 4, Dean Booth of Cuba City, grew Asgrow AG2431 and harvested 82.7 bu/a.  In second place, Mary Kay Booth of Cuba City grew Asgrow AG2433 and harvested 81.8 bu/a.  In Division 3, RnK DeVoe Farms of Monroe won 1st place with Pioneer P28T33R at 92.1 bu/a (highest overall yield) and in 2nd place, Ellis Farms Inc. of Walworth harvested 74.4 bu/a with Dairyland DSR-2190/R2Y.  Also in Division 3, the Wisconsin Bean Team of UW Graduate students Adam Gaspar, David Marburger, and Ethan Smidt grew Pioneer P28T33R and harvested 87.4 bu/a. The WI Bean Team is ineligible for official prizes as they are grad students of Dr. Conley; however their efforts are still recognized.   In Division 2, Stetzer Brothers LLC of Melrose achieved 71.2 bu/a from Pioneer 91Y90 for first place. In 2nd place, Triple Maple Dairy LLC of Manitowoc harvested 65.0 bu/a from Renk RS183NR2 soybeans. In Division 1 at 57.8 bu/a was Paul Graf Farms LLC from Sturgeon Bay.  They planted Pioneer 90Y90.  2nd place winner in Division 1 was Kloos Acres from Stratford.  They harvested 55.0 bu/a from Pioneer 91Y30. 

The contest is sponsored by the WI Soybean Program and organized to encourage the development of new and innovative management practices and to show the importance of using sound cultural practices in WI soybean production.

 Agronomic Practices of 2013 WI Soybean Yield Contest Winners
Avg. Planting date May 14th 
Avg. Seeding rate (seeds/acre) 176,111
  % using this practice
Inoculant 33
Seed fungicide 67
Seed insecticide 56
Foliar fungicide 56
Foliar insecticide 22
Row spacing < 30" 89
Conventional tillage 56
Previous crop not corn 11

For more information please contact Shawn Conley, WI State Soybean Specialist at 608-262-7975 or spconley@wisc.edu