Nearly 80% of the 2011 U.S. soybean crop has yet to be planted, according to the May 16 Crop Progress report. And with nearly 40% of the corn crop still not in the ground, it could still be many weeks before farmers are able to plant the majority of their soybeans.
With late planting almost a certainty for many parts of the country, soybean production processes should be adjusted to achieve maximum yields at harvest.
Here are five quick tips to keep in mind as you are planting beans this year…
Prepare for Yield Losses
Yield is the biggest downfall to planting soybeans late, says Harold Watters, Ohio State Extension crop production specialist. With late planting, key crop development stages, such as pod fill, occur when less rain typically falls. “When you don’t have enough water to fill pods, yield goes down.”
Yet, Watters says farmers in his state have had years where they planted as late as Memorial Day weekend and still had respectable yields. “We know from research that yields are falling off already, but how fast they will fall of this year is what it comes down to.”
University of Minnesota Extension data shows soybean yields start dropping significantly as the calendar switches form May to June.
Pump Up Your Seeding Rate
To help compensate for the potential yield losses due to planting date, Watters says farmers must increase their seeding rates. “We need a higher seeding rate to get rapid ground cover,” he says.
Watters says farmers should increase their seeding rates to the high end of the recommended range, but not past it.
Narrow Up Your Rows
Another key to increasing soybean density is to plant narrow rows. “Ideally we’d like to have the ground cover by July 1,” Watters says. “That definitely takes narrow rows and a higher seeding rate to get that accomplished in a four-week time period.”
Adjust Your Planter Settings
In a recent news release, Shaun Casteel, Purdue Extension soybean specialist, notes that many of the soybean lots planted in 2010 were large seeds. That isn't the case this year.
"Soybean seeding rates need to be adjusted by seed size rather than weight," he said. "Planter settings used last year will probably drop more seeds per acre with this year's seed lots and germination scores fluctuate, as well," he said.
Finish Up Corn, Then Switch to Beans
When planting lags into May and June, farmers are often faced with the decision: Do I finish planting corn or switch to planting soybeans?
Many factors can affect this decision, but Watters says in his mind, the choice is clear. “Corn today will make you more money than beans. Continue to work on corn, but as soon as you get that done, move on over to beans.”
For More Information
Read these articles to find more agronomic advice on late-planted soybeans, as well as other planting reports and news.
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