Friday, December 23, 2011

Finalists for the 2011 WI Soybean Yield Contest are Announced

2011 was another great year to be a soybean producer in Wisconsin. Even with the production challenges growers faced across the state the average yield was 47 bu/ acre (NASS, 2011) which ranked third nationwide. We also saw a significant increase in the number of entries into the 2011 WSA/WSMB Soybean Yield Contest. The top three entries in the non-irrigated class (in no particular order) were: RnK Devoe Farms, Monroe (planted Pioneer 92Y51), Zenz Farms, Lancaster (planted Asgrow 2403), and S+W Farms LLC, Platteville (planted Dairyland DSR2770/RR). The top two entries in the irrigated class (in no particular order) were: AB Farms, Dallas (planted Pioneer 91M10) and Badgerland Grain Farms LLC, Edgerton (planted Asgrow 2330). The final ranking and awards will be presented at the 2012 Corn Soy Expo to be held at the Kalahari Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells on Thursday February 2nd. 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.

For more information please contact Shawn Conley, WI State Soybean Specialist at 608-262-7975 or

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Sampling for Soybean Cyst Nematode

With soybean harvest almost complete I just wanted to remind everyone that the UW-Madison Agronomy Department, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, is offering free soybean cyst nematode (SCN) soil testing for Wisconsin growers. This program is intended for growers to sample several of their fields in order to identify if SCN is present and at what levels. For a detailed history of this program as well as the current state of SCN in WI please see Soybean Cyst Nematode Sampling and Testing in Wisconsin.

Growers will be responsible for collecting soil from fields suspected to have SCN and then sending the sample to the SCN testing laboratory for analysis. They will receive a lab report back with the SCN egg count and a brochure to help plan future rotations and other cultural practices to lower SCN infestation if they exist.

We have a limited number of these free kits available and will furnish them on a first come - first served basis at up to four per farm. Crop consultants, advisors, and crop input retailers are encouraged to request kits for their client’s farms. Each kit has a bag and a prepaid mailer for one soil sample, which should represent about 10-15 acres. Both the postage and lab fees are prepaid ($50 value). Anytime before, during, or right after the growing season are great times to collect soil samples for routine soil fertility analysis and for SCN monitoring.

Soil sample test kits are available now and can be requested from My Linh Do at My Linh Do or at 608-262-1390.

For more information on SCN testing and management practices to help reduce the losses from this pest, please contact: Shawn Conley:; 608-262-7975.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don’t Let Your Harvest Go Up in Smoke!

With only 5% of corn acres harvested as grain complete and 2% of soybeans harvested (compared to last year’s 20%) as of the most recent (October 3, 2011) USDA Wisconsin Crop Progress Report, those running combines, trucks and other harvest equipment are in for a super busy October. It’s important to use the few extra moments and rainy days you do have to take extra steps to reduce the risk of a catastrophic combine fire. The risk is higher when you’re going all out to get the crop out of the field before the first snow flies, especially if you don’t take the time to keep your machine clean and take care of all the required maintenance.

A few years ago when I was an agricultural safety specialist in Minnesota’s Agricultural Engineering Department, my research team and I looked at more than 8,000 fires that had occurred over more than a decade. We dug into the details of 620 of these fires that happened from 1998-2000 and learned some important facts.

October is by far the highest risk month, based largely on the sheer number of hours spent in the field, often with little time to pay full attention to maintenance tasks. Mechanical failures like worn out bearings, slipping belts, etc. were the biggest cause followed by electrical system failure (arcing, sparking, overheating), and simple lack of maintenance. More than three-quarters (76.7%) of fires started in the engine area. While “crop residue” was most often the first material to catch on fire, IF the fire burned into a fuel, oil, or hydraulic line, losses were often catastrophic ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to full losses.

Keep your machine as clean as possible. Depending on the design of the machine and the condition of the crop, you will rapidly learn where crop material will tend to accumulate. Manually remove material and use an air compressor (and safety glasses) to blow off dust, chaff and other material as often as possible. If you notice any type of flickering of lights/instruments, unusual noises (from failing beartings or other mechanical components), or even small leaks in fuel or oil lines, diagnose and fix the problem immediately.

If your combine does catch on fire, pull immediately away from the standing crop and get the engine shut down as soon as you can safely do so. A running engine will continue to “fan” the fire and will often continue to pump liquid fuel into a burning area if you’ve ruptured an oil or diesel line. Get help onto the site immediately by calling 911. Provide the dispatcher with your exact location, staying on the line if necessary so that your location can be detected. Let the fire department dispatcher know you have a farm machinery fire so they can send the right equipment. Do not try to fight the fire with an extinguisher unless you are able to approach it safely.

Every grain combine should be equipped with two ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers – the larger, the better, but they should be AT LEAST 10-pounds with an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approval. One can be mounted in the cab, and one in an area where you can reach it from the ground without having to climb back into the machine. Check the pressure gauge on all extinguishers often. DO NOT try and test the extinguisher by “releasing” some of the chemical. It will effectively unseal the unit and requiring it to be recharged by a local fire department or other facility with the correct equipment. Many fire departments will also provide advice and will take a look at your extinguishers if you have any doubts or need other fire protection advice.

Finally, check with your insurance agent to make sure all your equipment is appropriately covered. A combine fire can easily cost $150,000 or more. The additional “downtime” can run thousands of dollars a day depending on crop prices, the capacity of your machinery, and the weather conditions. Take time to think about and reduce your risk before it’s too late!

John Shutske,

ANRE Program Director (and Professor, Biological Systems Engineering)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Effect of Freezing on Soybean Seed Yield and Composition

Greg Andrews from Pierce County received many texts from growers this morning that reported temps ranged from 23 to 29 across the county, 23 in valleys and 27-29 lasting from about 3am to 7am for much of the upland corn and soybean growing regions. His early observations in soybean fields with green stem and leaves indicated that cell rupture and wilting was already obvious (Images 1 and 2). The next question is how much yield loss will this injury translate to. Saliba et al. (1982). reported that the latest growth stage at which significant yield loss occurred due to freeze injury (80% leaf loss) ranged from R6.0 to R7.2 with an average growth stage of R6.6. For the most part the WI soybean crop is in the R6.5 to R7.5 growth stage. This suggests that there is a potential for yield loss, but the extent will be variety dependent. Saliba et al. (1982) also reported that the yield loss from this crop injury will be due to a reduction in seed size and not seed abortion. Lastly, Saliba et al. (1982) suggested no impact on seed protein or oil content when freeze injury occurred after R6.3.

Frost injury to soybean (photos courtesy of Bill Halfman)

Given the dairy industry in the state some growers may consider taking the soybean as a forage. Just remember to contact your crop insurance agent before you do anything.

Literature cited:

Saliba, M.R., L.E. Schrader, S.S. Hirano, and C.D. Upper. 1982. Effects of Freezing Field Grown Soybean Plants at Various Stages of Podfill on Yield and Seed Quality. Crop Science. 22:73-78.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potential for Soybean Yield Loss Due to Frost

The threat of a killing frost across WI has many growers concerned about the potential yield loss to soybean. The soybean fields that I have scouted over the last week are well into the the R6 growth stage (full seed: pod containing a green seed that fills the pod cavity at one of the four upper most nodes on the main stem with a fully developed leaf). In fact as of Monday 9/12/11 8% of the soybean varieties had reached physiological maturity (R7) at our Arlington site. On average a soybean plant remains in the R6 growth stage for 18 days; however the range can be as short as 9 days or as many as 30. As we move through the R6 growth stage and into R7 soybean seed moisture declines thus decreasing the risk of yield loss due to frost. Judd et al. (1982) found that seed in green pods which contain 65% moisture are injured at 28 °F whereas seed found in brown pods at 35% moisture was not injured at 10 °F. If frost damage is suspected remember that frost damaged soybeans will dry slower in the field and accuracy of moisture sensors may be suspect (may be 1-2% higher than the moisture meter reading) (PM 1635).

For more information on storage issues and uses of frost damaged soybean read page two of: Frost Damage to Corn and Soybean.

Literate cited:

PM 1635: Frost Damage to Corn and Soybean.

Judd, R., T.M. Tekrony, D. B. Egli, and G.M. White. 1982. Effect of freezing temperatures during soybean seed maturation on seed quality. Agron J. 74:645-650.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Late Season Soybean Diseases

The 2011 growing season has been one of great variability in terms of the weather and its impact on soybean diseases. Early season conditions were cool and wet planting which was then followed by high heat and humidity. Now, as reported in the August 19th blog posting, abnormally dry conditions are being reported in several areas of the state. Thus, a common question as we get closer to harvest is, "Given these variable weather conditions, what is the potential effect of soybean diseases on yield?" Based on recent reports and our observations of different field trials, we highlight below several diseases that are popping up in soybean fields and provide specific links for further information about each disease.

In spite of the heat during flowering in many areas, we have seen white mold occurring. This is not necessarily a surprise as we do find the disease each growing season. Based on our current observations and reports though, it appears that the disease intensity is low in many locations, although variation to the soybean variety is being noted.

Also, over the past week to two weeks, we have seen an increase in Frogeye leaf spot. This disease, caused by the fungus Cercospora sojina, was observed in 2010 across the state and conditions in 2011, especially the hot and humid periods that occurred a few weeks ago, were favorable for disease development. In some of the plots that were recently visited, the severity of the disease appears higher than what we observed in 2010, however, levels still appear to be low.

Similar to some of the conditions we saw in 2008, we have seen fields and soybean plants with symptoms of either Phytophthora root and stem rot or stem canker. These two diseases can easily be confused for one another so it is important to make sure a proper identification.

Last, but not necessarily least, we have had several reports and also seen symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS). Reports are still being compiled, but based on our observations, the severity of SDS is probably going to be lower than in 2010. With soybean in the R6 growth stage in many areas, it is also important to make sure that the disease identification is correct for SDS, since foliar symptoms are similar to brown stem rot (BSR). In particular, make sure to examine the whole plant, including stems (looking for internal browning due to BSR) and roots (looking for a root rot and also a bluish hue that is the fungus of SDS). Do not just rely on the foliar symptoms to verify your diagnosis of either disease.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stress on R6 Soybean

I have logged many miles across Southern WI the past week and have noticed several pockets of soybean that could use some rain. The U.S. Drought Monitor service verifies my wind shield scouting as it places most of southern WI in the abnormally dry category (Image 1). Across southern and central WI the average soybean field I have been in is at the R5.5 to R6 growth stage (full seed). In WI the R6 growth stage on average lasts ~18 days but will range from 9 to 30 days depending upon the weather. Soybean in this stage use about 1/4 to 1/3 inches of water per day. Lack of sufficient water during this growth stage can cause young pods and developing seed to abort reducing the number of seeds per plant (Images 2 &3).

Image 1.

Images 2 & 3. Stress induced seed and pod abortion at R6 soybean.

Soybean plants can reduce the size of their leaf pore openings to reduce the loss of water vapor. This also reduces the intake of carbon dioxide and the manufacturing of photosynthates which slows plant growth. When normal soil moisture returns, normal growth is resumed. This ability to reduce metabolic activity allows plants to tolerate dry spells without dying or harming their ability to resume growth when normal moisture returns.

If stress has severely affected pod set and seed fill, and if livestock feed is needed, soybeans can be harvested as a forage for ensiling. Highest protein and yields are obtained from soybean harvested at the R6 to R7 growth stage. Harvesting soybeans for forage between the R1 and R5 stage will result in a very high quality silage, but dry matter yields will be reduced significantly. Forage quality will be reduced from R5 soybean forward if a conditioning process is used during harvest. Conditioning will cause significant seed shattering.