Just when we thought that 2020 would bring us better weather and planting conditions than 2019, Mother Nature continues to remind us that she is in control. Even though it feels like planting progress is behind, based off the NASS soybean planting report for Illinois roughly 59% of the soybean crop has been planted as of May 17, 2020, which is a big jump compared to 2019 or even the 5 year average on this date.
Chart source: USDA National Agricultural Statistic
Services as of May 17, 2020

Illinois soybean producers have validated the importance of planting soybeans early over the past five years. Yes, this new type of management does come with its fair share of risk and challenges. However, if managed right, rewards can be profitable.

In 2020, March Madness has been knocked out by MAY Madness. With the middle of May here, it’s now time to make several field evaluations for 2020. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while trying to survive May Madness.
1. Consideration for planted beans:
  • What percent of the desired stand has emerged?
    • Even though max yield can be obtained with lower seeding rates, it’s still recommended to plant at a realistic rate in case soil conditions are challenging.
  • Is the new growth healthy?
    • With recent frost and wet temperatures, it’s important to evaluate all plant parts, but most importantly the newest growth.
  • Review the field tolerance scores of the soybean genetics planted.
    • Seed treatments will last 2-3 weeks once the soils become wet. Be on the lookout for disease.
  • Replant full fields or spot-in lower areas
  • Review the replant policy with your seed supplier
  • Review the replant policy with your crop insurance agent
  • Bean are starting to emerge, how could this impact your herbicide program?
2. Consideration for late planting soybeans:
  • Keeping seeding rates higher than April planting (145,000-160,000 +/-)
  • Potential reduced canopy (manage weeds by layering residuals)
  • Narrow rows will favor a quicker canopy closure
  • Reduced flowering sites and each site will need to produce or retain more blooms and pods
  • Review your herbicide label dates for post program and carryover issues
3. Consideration for late planting corn:
  • Do not change out hybrids’ Relative Maturity … yet (20-50 bu hit)
  • Do not over shallow the seeding depth for quicker emergence
    • Rootless Corn Syndrome
    • Crown root development issues
  • Once we get into late May or early June and conditions are not favorable to replant the once undesirable corn, it may become desirable.
  • Review planting dates for crop insurance: Last day to plant with full coverage vs prevent plant.
  • Does your current nitrogen supply meet the upcoming demand?
4. Considerations for when to switch from corn to soybeans:
  • Will there be enough GUDs to finish “baking” the crop? … Dry down?
  • Will grain fill be favorable like 2019?
  • Have you already applied nitrogen?
  • Do you have the capacity to handle wet corn with reduced market value?
  • Do you have the labor capacity to handle the corn grain volume with reduced market value?

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About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.