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.