Part Two – Top 15 Tips After 15 Years of Growing Soybeans

This is part two of my 15 tips after 15 years of growing soybeans. To see the first part, click here.

soybean crop8. Inoculation

Soybean soil inoculum is not native to Canadian soil. It is important to inoculate with a liquid on the seed and a granular in furrow. This is called double inoculation. Doubling the amount of liquid or the amount of granular is not double inoculation.

Even after many years of growing soybeans at Richardson’s Kelburn Farm, with some fields beginning to see soybeans for the fifth time, I still use a double inoculation strategy.

9. Fertility

There is a misconception that soybeans are cheap to grow, because no additional fertilizer is needed at planting. Part of this may be true.

No fertilizer is required at planting as research trials in Manitoba have shown no statistical result when adding in phosphorus in furrow or broadcast for soybeans. But, a 50-bushel soybean crop will need to uptake in pounds per acre, including 245 nitrogen, 54 phosphorus, 115 potassium and 18 sulfur, according to IPNI. Inoculation and a good overall farm fertility program to replace nutrients removed by a soybean crop are important parts of your crop plan.

10. Rolling After Planting

If the field has stones or is rough from planting, rolling should be done to aid in harvest. The first pods on a soybean plant can be less than two inches above the soil and a smooth field will help for harvest.

Rolling can be done right after planting, but should be delayed on heavy soils for a day or two to reduce the risk of crusting. Rolling cannot take place as the soybeans emerge because if the hook is broken, the plant will die.

If the first timing was missed, soybeans can be rolled at the first trifoliate in the heat of day. Travel slower and check to see that plants are only being bent over and not broken off.

11. Weed Control Before Soybeans Emerge

The key here is to start clean and stay clean. If the field of choice has a suspected weed issue, you should consider using pre-emerge herbicides. Multiple modes of action should also be considered to reduce the onset of herbicide resistance. As mentioned earlier, soybeans are not good weed competitors.

12. Weed Control In the Crop

Early weed control and the use of residual herbicides will help to carry the crop through its early stages. Controlling Roundup Ready volunteer canola should be taken care of much more easily and earlier in the season as opposed to later on in crop.

Evaluating herbicide efficacy is also important to ensure the application was a success or to address any weeds that may have been missed.

13. Crop Scouting

Keeping the field free of weeds early on is key. Crop scouting at this time is important and the field should be visited at least every five days to keep ahead of any weed issues.

As the season progresses, any early-season weed control applications, emergence issues, final plant population and insect and disease pressures all need to be considered as they may affect final yield.

14. Insects and Disease

Soybeans are a relatively new crop, so insects and disease are not a huge concern. However, knowing when to scout for certain insect pests, such as aphids, will help to make the soybean crop a success.

15. Harvest and Storage

All the work done in-season, such as field preparations, planting, weed control and scouting, will all lead to an easier harvest. Desiccation is rarely needed as soybeans do mature and dry down quickly.

Using a flex header will allow the cutter bar to cut as low as possible and flex over the contours of the field. Your combine travel speed should be around 3.5 to four mph to reduce header loss. Reel speed should be set accordingly to assist with moving material back off the knife, but not too fast to cause shatter.

Harvest can begin at 15 to 16 per cent moisture, with dry being 14 per cent or less moisture. Set your rotor or cylinder speed and clearance accordingly, checking the hopper regularly for full pods, splits and cracks. Your fan speed can be set quite high to elevate chaff.

Check the ground at harvest. If full pods are being left intact on the plant, you may need to adjust your header height or angle. If seeds are found on the ground, you should locate the source of the loss.

Remember—it only takes four seeds per square foot to equal one bushel per acre loss.

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