Hi there! Max, your favorite blogging bean is back with a final report on the 2021 growing season. This report is coming to you posthumously, since I matured and was harvested back in the middle of October.
In my last report, I was looking forward to receiving a shot of fungicide. When it finally came, it was like a breath of fresh air. The rainy conditions for much of the growing season provided a perfect environment for diseases to develop and the fungicide stopped them in their tracks. Besides the obvious benefit of stopping disease production, the storbiluron component of the fungicide helped reduce the amount of ethylene I was producing. Basically, ethylene is a hormone that causes aging in plant tissues. If you have ever left a banana in a bag on the counter and seen how quickly it ripens or witnessed one rotten apple spoiling the rest in the bag, you have seen the effects of ethylene. Reducing production in a plant allows it to stay healthier longer and thus provides greater yield potential.
In late August, the weather turned hot and dry, and I began to mature. Throughout the month, I continued to set a few flowers, but most of my energy went into the seeds already growing in my pods. Since the April frost had killed off a few of my neighbors, I had plenty of room to stretch my branches and little competition for the nutrients in the soil. I took advantage of sunny day after sunny day to photosynthesize and feed the tiny seeds and they grew rapidly.
The days continued to get shorter, and my leaves started to turn yellow. I was a little sad to know that my growing season was almost over, but glad that my seeds would be used for all kinds of things. Not just the usual suspects like oil, feed, and fuel, but also plastics, paint, tires, crayons, shoes, and much more. One thing you probably didn’t know about soybeans is that we love overhearing podcasts from the cabs of tractors passing through our fields, and I recently heard a great one that described a bunch of the cool things we are used for. If you’d like, you can check it out for yourself: https://apple.co/3moUpVu.
When I finally lost my leaves, turned brown, and dried up, the inevitable wild ride through the combine was in store for each and every one of my seeds. Being young, they enjoyed it greatly and what was left of me went back onto the field to break down and return to the soil. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, as the saying goes.
If you have been following Max’s adventures the entire growing season, you probably remember that he was planted back on March 10 and had to survive harsh conditions including temperatures as low as 26°F after emergence over a couple of nights in late April. This resulted in a final stand of around 67,000 plants per acre. Growers may wonder whether or not to replant at that population. We attempted to answer that question by planting another strip at 140,000 nearby on May 3, which was our first opportunity to get back into the field. The final stand of the May 3 planting was 122,000 and yielded 72.4 bushels per acre, compared to 77.7 in the March 10 planting that we left untouched.