2017 Soybean Challenges

November 7, 2017

We have seen lots of challenges in this year’s soybean production.  The end result is below average yields for roughly 50% of growers. 

 

Here are some of the issues:

 

Early season

-Russian Roulette with new varieties. It seems every 5 years or, so the industry overhauls their genetics on the market-largely driven by trait evolution.  Dozens of new varieties launched for 2017 with limited if any field performance knowledge. End result, too many dogs in the bunch. And many disappointed results.  Because soybean results have been so erratic in 2017, really chose carefully for 2018 and keep new varieties to an acreage that is proportional to the risk you are taking.  Just because its new, doesn't make it better.

-crop rotation of beans on beans on beans is taking a toll.  2017 saw the largest soybean acreage percentage within our scouting program.  The decline in spring grains, canola and hay acres is finding itself in the soybean acre.  Crop rotation is not glamorous and is sometimes difficult to quantify but it is the single most important management tool you have on your farm. And it delivers more to your bottom line through soil health than cover crops or reduce tillage ever will. 

-poor seed quality in several varieties lead to thin stands and reduced populations and had poor vigour on remaining stands. Dropped 225000 and got 90000 final stands. Replanted and got another 25000 emerged.  Brutal!  Poor weather/growing conditions in May and June making above items even more impactful.  And then pile on the slugs which didn't let up in some farms all season. 

-seedcorn maggot reduced populations. Manured ground and soybeans do not mix in this region.  Neonics were a very important management tool for this pest that we lost.  There is no channel to justify neonic treatment through bait traps when SCM is your major pest.

-higher than normal impact to seedling growth from pre/conventional chemistry. Sencor, authority, valtera. Sprayer overlaps killed the beans in many cases and thinned lots of zones in farms with the worst being headlands.  Due to the need for conventional chemistry on many farms now to combat glyphosate resistance this is not just an IP grower’s issue.  We can't control a 6' rainfall event that washed product into the root zone, but this was a factor for sure.

-Late planting. We can't change the weather, but there needs to be urgency around planting dates in soys.  You can't mud them in, but you also can't miss a good planting day either.  Seeding capacity is so critical.  This is likely the biggest factor for spring 2017.

-weed pressure-particularly resistant fleabane.  I only have one farm of this so far, a new farm to the grower and what a mess.  Land owners have no idea what this weed does to their farms potential.  Continued diligence to keep glyphosate resistance in check should be on everyone’s radar and in your crop plan.

 

Mid-season

-cool and wet during July setup a tremendous risk for white mould infection.  We saw some impact but the really cold conditions in mid-late Aug slowed some of that down.  

-Canopy filled in and looked better but was mainly leaves and stems which masked the low populations.  There was very low sunlight contribution in this window R1-R4.  Canopy development and sunlight accumulation is what builds the factory to drive the yield later.

 

Late season

-this is when we really started to see the impact of the less than ideal early conditions.  

-many plants had no functioning nodules during R5 stage.  Roots were impaired by root rots resulting in reduced nutrient and water uptake.

-add in an early frost on 4 Saturdays in a row starting Aug 19th.  Lost the top flowers and leaves in some cases and in others lost the top half of the plants.  The worst was localized mainly in the Highlands but everyone experienced sub 5C temperatures for many days during critical pod fill stages.  Soybeans do not like extreme temperatures. 

-as the leaves dropped it became clear from the open canopy that thin stands would be a factor that could not be ignored.

-plant stress led to seed and pods being aborted as the plants rationalized resources and their ability to yield.

 

This list encompasses most of the factors that can go wrong in soybean production and we experienced it all in one growing season.  Many producers experienced some or all of these factors.

 

What did work?  Early planting.  Well drained soils.  And on the plus side, I am very pleased with Stratego Pro fungicide for soybeans. For white mould suppression it performed significantly better than I expected and has sifted to the top for fungicide of choice in soybeans.

 

Corn Update

We are about 25-30% of the way through corn harvest.  Early results have been positive with good yields and low Grade 2 or Grade 3 test weights.  Moisture is ranging from 24-30%.  As we move into the later planting dates I expect we will see a drop in test weights where the corn crop struggled to mature.  There are lots of farms with moisture well over 34% still.

 

Have a safe harvest everyone.

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