After a tough year, brothers Ben and Evan Daily, with the help of their father, James, of Hope, Ind., were thrilled when they realized they achieved their lofty goal of 100 bu. soybeans. They even surpassed the century mark and harvested a per-acre average of 102 bu. on 3.2 acres and had an overall average of 91 bu. per acre on the 40 acre field. When commodity prices got tight, they got smart and intentionally worked to improve soybean yields and returns.
Ben offers these five tips to take soybean management to the next level:
1.Start planting earlier. “Soybeans are all about sunlight,” Ben says. “We started the end of April, early May.” This was about two weeks earlier than normal, which meant, in many cases, they planted corn and soybeans at the same time.
2.Switch to a longer season soybean to maximize the entire growing season. More light and more time result in more leaves and pods to help increase yield.
3.Add nitrogen to soybeans. While soybeans can fixate their own nitrogen from the air, that alone isn’t enough to reach 100 bu. per acre. They added 100 lb. of foliar feed nitrogen to soybeans to give them a boost.
4.Be prepared for extra weed management. Letting yield-robbing weeds escape isn’t an option if you’re trying to increase yields. Be sure you add residual to your pre-emergent spray and scout to catch weeds early in a post application.
5.When scouting, keep an eye out for fungus and disease and be prepared to take action. They intended to apply fungicide twice on the 40-acre field, but weather prevented the second application.
Ben says these five factors, as well as working closely with his chemical reps, were key contributors to reaching his goal of 100 bu. per acre
“Change the way you think about fertilizer and nutrient management programs,” says Nicole Mercer, innovation specialist for BASF. “Also focus on plant health with fungicide programs and weed control.”
Mercer worked closely with the brothers to provide herbicides, fungicides and insecticides at specific times throughout the season. In total, Ben estimates the extra chemical and fertilizer cost $50 to $75 more per acre than usual. Since he reached his goal, the extra inputs paid for themselves, but it was a risk he was willing to take.
“Take a chance and see if it works,” Ben says. “If it doesn’t look good midseason, cut out the last steps. Stick with it more than one year, though.”