10. “Soybeans are just a crop that I use to rotate and plant after my corn.”

The average soybean yield in Illinois is 55 bu/A, and yet we know that our soybean genetics have the potential to reach yields of 100 bu/A. Focus on “Six Secrets to Soybean Success” such as weather, fertility, genetics, foliar protection, seed treatment and row arrangement as introduced by University of Illinois professor, Dr. Fred Below. You will find some ideas on how to improve yield.

9. “I scout from the combine.”

For top producers, their key to success is to have “boots on the ground” every week during the growing season. You can test for SCN, scout for insects and disease and make good economic decisions based on pest thresholds. A fungicide or insecticide can be applied at the correct time, if needed to increase yield. If a disease can’t be treated this year, you can remember to manage it in the future.

Insects: http://ilsoyadvisor.com/insect-management/2016/july/managing-foliar-feeding-pests-of-soybean

Foliar Disease: https://www.ilsoyadvisor.com/disease-management/2016/july/to-spray-or-not-to-spray-fungicides-that-is-the-question/

8. “I tested a product last year on one field and it did not work. And no, I did not leave a check.”

If doing strip trials on your farm, leave a check and repeat paired strips at least four times to help overcome field variability. Serious growers test products on the same variety to see if there is yield benefit that is consistent under different environmental conditions. Lastly, take advantage of this data and adopt technologies to increase production, profit and to improve value of your farm.



7. “I don’t use seed treatment. I used it one year and I did not see a yield benefit.”

As we plant earlier than ever in anticipation of higher yields, it is possible that environments could become more conducive for disease pathogens that cause Pythium and sudden death syndrome, as well as other root rots. Seed treatments can give us the insurance we need to protect against pests and disease while protecting seed quality, so don’t discount their value on your farm.



6. “I don’t want to spend money on products/seed treatment to protect against disease and weeds, so I will plant soybeans later.”

Research has proven that despite some diseases—such as SDS—and other risks, it still pays to plant soybeans earlier. Try out a new seed treatment called ILeVO® to help reduce your risk to SDS as well as protect against early season SCN. Spending money on fall burndown or preplant residual herbicide that consists of chemicals with multiple sites of actions is not only a necessity to obtain clean fields, but also helps in the fight against weed resistance.



5. “I planted my soybeans at 200,000 seeds per acre.”

The higher the soybean population, the more apt you are to have some disease or lodging in certain environments. Research has shown that we can go with lower amounts of seeds per acre depending on environment, row spacing and variety, but in general, we are beginning to realize we can get the same or higher yields with final stands of around 100,000 plants per acre, especially if we are investing in residual herbicides and seed treatments.

4. “That herbicide does not work. The weeds were this tall (hands demonstrate 12 to 18 inches tall) when I post sprayed. No, I did not use a preresidual herbicide.”

As weed resistance runs rampant, and there are no new herbicides with new sites of actions coming in the future, agronomists will continue to try to curb weed resistance by reminding us to continue scouting, using preresiduals, spraying posts on weeds that are 2 to 4 inches, overlapping residuals, rotating the site of actions, using crop rotation or cover crops and keeping good records to avoid weed resistance! You may even have to get out the hoe or weed whacker once in a while to cut the seed bank down.



3. “My soil tests are fine. No, I don’t soil or foliar test for micronutrients throughout the season.”

In my travels, I continue to run into crop issues/yield loss due to soil pH as well as nutrient deficiencies. In short, high yielding soybeans require adequate fertilization, just like corn or wheat. Improper fertility within a soybean crop is one of the main issues that is keeping us from maximum yield potential.



2. “I sprayed my waterhemp five times, and it still won’t die.”

Weed resistance needs no explanation today! We hear or read frequently about the problem and how to manage it. Pay attention and implement these best management practices: change modes of action, apply a pre, add a residual to your post and study what herbicide combinations have worked.

1. “The way my dad farmed works for me. The herbicides that I am using still work. I will let my son/daughter worry about resistance on our farm.”

I remain positive, as I have met with some of the smartest farmers across Illinois that keep up with the latest research and are always open to change. These are the farmers that will succeed in the future. Please don’t be that farmer that is not open to change and does not want to invest time, money and effort not only for a return on investment, but for our future.

Stephanie Porter is a Sales Agronomist with Burrus® Hybrids with responsibilities that include educating growers and Burrus staff on all types of pests, weeds, diseases and other agronomic issues that affect corn, soybean and alfalfa production. Her territory encompasses Southern Wisconsin as well as Northern, Eastern and Southern Illinois. 

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About the Author: Stephanie Porter

As Outreach Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Stephanie supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to Illinois 43,000 soybean farmers. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Stephanie has 23 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has her bachelor’s in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations as the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.