Most farmers I know work like dogs from the first dry day in March through the time corn is “laid by,” usually around the 4th of July. After that, the corn has pollinated most years and it is time to mow roadsides, county fair time and time for family vacations. But with soybeans, the time to really emphasize management has just begun. One of the most frequent questions I get from growers is “Why can’t I grow better beans than I did 10 years ago?” That is a good question; genetics are much better, and we understand the need for better soil fertility for beans. Seed treatments, yield tweaks like foliar nutrition, stress mitigation (disease, insect and environmental stress) and biologicals are proven yield boosters. So why are we still stuck around that 50 to 60 BPA across much of Illinois and year after year?
Well, the answer lies with the same reasoning we use in August: “Boy, if I could catch one more rain these beans will really pop.” So if a late season rain will still help soybean yield why are we giving up on the other proven tools? I realize the boys in Brazil have a different issue with Asian Soybean Rust, but many of their top producers are still making applications after R3 when we have pretty much decided we’re done and are waiting on that rain. Insects are still feeding, hidden deficiencies are still possible, and this is the time when our N producing nodes are shutting down and plants could benefit from a dose of nitrogen. Diseases are still a possibility but that is less likely with our climate than in South America. If you’ve applied a good, dual mode fungicide at R3, you should be covered, but don’t stop scouting those fields. Things can and do go wrong and you might not know it until it is too late.
For the last few years I have told growers that you can manage corn from Memorial Day through the 4th of July and get by with it, but you better manage your soybeans from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The favored BMP’s for soybeans have changed a bit over the last few years and we will be writing about those in timely fashion this summer. Remember, you only grow one crop a year. Make it count. If you want to maximize your ROI, and that is a big deal right now, spend another 60 days in your soybean fields. Scout weekly not weakly, do some tissue testing, get a scout manual and learn to identify common diseases and insects. If you need help, contact a trusted source for more information and you can always ask a question here on ILSOYADVISOR.com. There are six Soy Envoys who are more than happy to give you an opinion.
Mike Wilson is a Specialty Products Marketing Coordinator at Wabash Valley Service Company. For over 20 years he has been working with farmers in ten counties in southeastern Illinois to improve economic yield in soybeans, corn and wheat. Mike has been a CCA since 1994 and is enjoying being a part of the Soy Envoy program.