What makes a healthy soybean plant? It’s about what you both see and don’t see. When you want to produce a high-yield crop, pay close attention to plant health.
When I think about soybean health I sit back and think about my own health. A lot of things go into my staying healthy, just as a lot of things go into keeping our soybeans healthy.
When I think of keeping a young child healthy I think about vaccinations helping ward off diseases that we know can be a problem. I compare that to when we treat soybeans. We put on our seed treatments to defend our beans from issues that we know can arise.
Also, through research we know which genetics in soybeans have better tolerances to things such as Phytophthora and soybean cyst nematode (SCN). We select for varieties with favorable traits to give us the best outcome, allowing our beans to overcome or at least tolerate these threats.
The next thing I think of during vegetative growth is nutrition. I like to do a tissue sample on soybeans during vegetative growth to make sure that I provide them the nutrients they require so they never go hungry. This is just like making sure kids eat a balanced diet to remain healthy. If we give our kids and our soybeans the nutrition they need it keeps them strong to help them get through any tougher times they may encounter.
When I think of healthy soybeans during the reproductive stages I think of stress-free soybeans. Just as we have to deal with stresses that can affect our health, so do our soybeans. As we get busier in our lives we let some things slip. We still need a balance of nutrition, rest and exercise, but do not always get it.
Our soybeans can also be under stress. They have a large need for nutrients, water and the right environmental conditions and if they don’t receive them they will be under stress. I recommend tissue sampling soybeans at this time as well just to make sure there are not any hidden hungers we can correct, but cannot yet see. In the reproductive stages other stresses such as foliar diseases and insect pressure can also have an effect on how much stress our soybeans feel. There are things we can do to mitigate this stress and we should be aware of the actions we can take to do so.
It sounds like a cliché, but a happy soybean plant is a healthy soybean plant. Be aware of what is going on with your soybeans and nurture them to reach their potential.
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.