After 2022 is over, some ghosts from the current growing season could haunt you in 2023.


I took on the task of being a Soy Envoy with the idea that I would report each month on what I’m seeing out in fields across Illinois. While my day job has taken me to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Delaware, and many places in between in recent weeks, I have indeed been active locally as well and there is much worth mentioning.

The good: of course, there is good, but I’m saving that for next month’s report because that doesn’t make for a scary ghost story. But lean in close little ones. I have a tale of three lurking evils I have personally witnessed in abundance and they are sure to keep you awake at night,  long after this growing season ends.

  1. Soybean Cyst Nematode – We all stopped talking about SCN, didn’t we? Out of sight, out of mind. It used to be known as the top yield robber in the neighborhood though. If you want to see them, use a shovel to get the whole root intact and then wash it gently in a bucket of water. As the plant dries, look for tiny white specks attached to the roots. A magnifying lens helps. They are brighter in color and much smaller than nitrogen nodules. I have been shocked at the pressure I am seeing. The standard PI88788 source of SCN resistance used in most of the varieties you purchase has been in use for so long, it’s hard to tell if it really offers much protection anymore. Have your agronomist recommend testing procedures to see if you need a better plan for SCN management moving forward.
  1. Weed Escapes – Take a drive around your county and eyeball everyone else’s soybean fields. I swear, sometimes it’s hard to determine what the intended cash crop is on certain acreages. Waterhemp is the big culprit here, but it is not alone.Volunteer corn, lambsquarter, buttonweed, giant rag; they also did a good job of hiding under the canopy when the sprayer went through. Cleaning them up now will definitely reduce your yield on the acres you attempt to rescue but could save you money in the long haul. Or choose to leave them be and have a strong plan of attack for that ground next year.
  1. Compaction – It was a wet spring. You planted when you could. Now it is evident on far too many farms that crop roots have had to resort to acrobatics to find an opening through hard pan layers a few inches below the surface. It’s pretty hard to miss those flat-as-a-pancake root systems in your corn crop as well. If you haven’t already, take a looksee (I speak southern too!) to determine if corrective measures are in your future.

These are three powerful, lingering issues that could haunt you in life ahead. They will not go away after you retire the combine for the year.

I didn’t use a flashlight as we sat around the campfire, and you didn’t scream at the end. But like Freddy, Jason, and whatever that story was we were told as kids about bloody butter…








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About the Author: Jeff Shaner

Shaner of Sheldon, Ill., has been an agribusiness professional for over 30 years, including his role as Soybean Product Lead at the AgVenture Seed Company which he has served since 2001. His job keeps him involved with people and crops across approximately 20 states. A graduate of Lanark High School and the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, he served as a past president of the Soybean Division of the American Seed Trade Association. Jeff and his wife, Mandi, have four children.

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