In Northern Illinois we have had another interesting year with soybeans. We have had some great soybeans, some good soybeans and some fields that were just beans. Over the next few months we will try to dig in and see what made our great soybeans great and what caused some of our fields to just be beans. There are, however, a few things on the surface that we have already learned.
We had pockets of an issue that we have not paid enough attention to in the past that caught us a little by surprise. Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) set in on us and we were not prepared for that. It took some soybean fields that we had high expectations for and turned them into disappointments. However, we can learn from a situation like this and help prevent it in the future. Over this past season, and the previous, I have looked at the ILeVO® seed treatment. I wish now I would have implemented it across all the operations I work with instead of just looking at it. Last year it showed up as okay in the visual absence of SDS, but this year it stood out in the crowd. I feel the advantages we’ve seen this year would pay for us to use this method to reduce our risk in the future.
Looking back on the season the other thing I learned is how resilient our soybeans can be with treatment. We had beans survive in the soil for a much longer period than I expected. Mother’s Day weekend in our area was a beautiful day for planting soybeans. We all should have taken this beautiful day and spent it with the mothers in our lives instead of in the planter tractor. Planting on this day caused us quite a bit of headache and cost some operations quite a bit of profit. We have those days every year and this year that was the day. Some fields we replanted and some we did not. I must admit that in some of the fields we did not replant the soybeans did eventually emerge; after 10 days or more of sitting in the soil they kept coming. This in my mind is a true testimonial to the genetics and seed treatments that we have access to today.
Looking at insect pressure later in the season, we had very minimal feeding on our plants. Disease pressure varied around Northern Illinois and the jury is out on how much advantage our fungicide and insecticide treatments may have given us. Most treatments that I recommend on soybeans win 3 out of 5 years, breakeven 1 year and may lose in 1 year. It will be interesting to see if this year was one of those wins.
I feel the main thing this year that held us back from reaching our yield potential was the moisture we received throughout the summer in our area. We can all agree soybeans do not like wet feet and this year I felt proved that. There was plenty of moisture to allow our soybeans to grow vegetatively, but in a lot of instances this did not return to us as yield.
Moving forward, my takeaway from this year is to take care of your soybeans and the yield will follow. We need to remove as many risks as we can to allow our soybeans to reach their potential. We have many tools such as seed treatments, new genetics, growth regulators, micronutrients, macronutrients, fungicides, insecticides, etc. in our tool box.
Soybean yield is all about more pods with more beans. Anything we can do to help the plant put on more pods and more and bigger beans will be important in the future just as it was this year. We need to make sure we protect and feed the investments we make putting our crop in the ground so we can see it through to revenue in our pocketbooks.
Adam Day is a Certified Crop Advisor working with Northern Partners Cooperative in Ottawa, Illinois, as an Agronomy Account Manager. He works directly with growers on a daily basis, providing them with information and services to help them make decisions in their operations. His goal in working with farmers is to have a partnership to increase yield, profitability and sustainability.