Soybean harvest has had its ups and downs this fall. But if I had to single out the biggest in-field challenge, it would be trying not to combine through the waterhemp escapes and spread weed seed all over the field. Waterhemp seed is very small and there is plenty of it per plant. And given the difficulty in trying to control it, you don’t want to make the problem worse at harvest.

Waterhemp continues to be a growing problem in central Illinois. We typically find it emerging where rainwater flows through our fields and the seed is moving from other areas onto our farm. We manually pull what we can, stack and burn it. That seems to at least stop the spread.

Since waterhemp requires a multi-pronged approach to try and control it, I planted a brand-new Group 2.8 Enlist® soybean variety this year in April. The Enlist beans have tolerance to three modes of action which can help control waterhemp. Our yield average was 64 bushels per acre at 11-12 percent moisture, which is just where I wanted it to be. The soybean seeds were smaller than they have been the last several years, which affects quality, but I won’t complain about the yield as we had quite the drought in August just when the soybeans were maturing.

For 2021, since dicamba has been approved for use again, we will plant half dicamba-tolerant soybeans and half Enlist soybeans like we did this year. I am currently studying new herbicide programs that will be available for 2021 to see what the best options are.

We really like the results we get with no-till soybeans, so the only fall tillage I am working on is for a field where I will have an early soybean planting project. That field will be planted in April.

On an interesting side note, I learned the hard way this summer that the pandemic was creating other challenges for our farm. The post office and many companies were short-handed due to COVID-19, so machinery parts that usually took two days to get were taking a week or more. I wanted to mow roadsides before the Fourth of July and had to wait for a part for the mower. I also needed a chain for the combine during harvest and the shipping to get the chain quickly was half the cost of the chain itself.

All in all, it was a good year. And with harvest wrapping up, it is nice to see $10 soybeans again.

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About the Author: Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a fifth-generation soybean and corn farmer from Pontiac, Illinois. He is the Illinois Soybean Association District 6 director representing Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties. He has a bachelor's degree in ag industries from the University of Illinois. Along with farming, he operates an independent insurance agency and income tax service.