Weather and weed challenges were the two main issues in 2016; however, yields will still be above average.
After record warm and wet periods over winter we moved into a very dry early spring with some areas being more than 10 inches behind normal rainfall by late June. Soybean planting generally went well and early planted soybeans looked best all spring.
Weed control challenges began to appear early with escapes of waterhemp, giant ragweed, velvetleaf and even volunteer corn being very common. Weed control failures were driven by a host of issues including inadequate soil residual programs, lack of activating rainfall, improper POST application timing, drought-stressed weeds, large weeds, antagonism from tank mixtures and, frequently in the case of waterhemp, weed resistance. Many growers ended up settling for less than perfect weed control and are more determined than ever to up their weed control game next year.
When the rainy season started in late June soybeans responded with excessive vegetative growth. It was not uncommon to see 5-foot-tall soybeans by mid August. Wet weather persisted through July, August and into September, causing increased concern for wet-weather soybean diseases such as SDS and white mold. There were scattered reports of white mold across central Illinois, but luckily temperatures were too warm for a severe outbreak. SDS was more prevalent, especially in areas that had received more rain in May and June and where soils were saturated. Most of my area was moderately to severely drought-stressed in May and June which helped keep the incidence of SDS relatively low, even with excessively wet weather in July and August.
In spite of being too dry early, too wet late, having more weed control issues than normal and the appearance of some diseases, we are on pace for record soybean yields across the state. Field average yields of 70+ bu/ac are not uncommon. Good yields, better weed control options for 2017, grain quality issues in corn-on-corn and commodity price pressure could drive increased soybean acres in central Illinois next year.
Lance Tarochione is a technical agronomist with Asgrow/DEKALB in west central Illinois. His work has focused on crop production, research and product development, and through his role at Monsanto® he currently supports the Asgrow® and DEKALB® brands in seven counties in western Illinois.