It has been a very tough year down here in southern Illinois for all crops, but more so for double-crop beans. We can forget about those bumper, double-crop yields from a year ago. That probably will not repeat this year.

If you have been receiving some rainfall, then things probably don’t look too bad. If not, then results are all over the board. I have heard of some silage being cut already, and crop insurance has estimated some of those corn fields at a 30 to 40 bushels average yield. Then on the flip side, I have seen double-crop bean fields that have never made it out of the straw.

It is August and most of the double-crop soybean belt in Illinois is looking at not only double crops, but full-season beans and corn that are just not growing. Overall, this has been a harsh summer for our crops. Extremely high temperatures have been the norm, and a general absence of rainfall has taken its toll.

In many locations, wheat was cut in early June, and those wheat yields were outstanding. Many have reported field averages over 100 bushels, and whole farm averages at, or just below, 100-bushel again were the norm. Back in June, we were coming off a long run with excellent to abundant moisture. Planting double crops was earlier than normal with great emergence and initial stand establishment. It looked like a home run for double crops again in 2017.

However, many of those same fields have had a total of 1 inch of rain since planting, with most of that rain coming in one-tenth increments and just dampening the soil surface. Add the hot weather and some heavy wheat straw inhibiting those young plants, and we haven’t had good growing conditions to this point.

While it can be more difficult to assess yield potential of beans than corn, now is a good time to put some possible yield numbers on your double-crop beans. Those yield projections will help with decision-making moving forward. Having an idea of yield projections will help you assess if a treatment will be economically beneficial, or if there is yield present to capture.

For the beans that made it out of the straw, be aware of the weed pressure that is out there. One thing I have noticed as of late is that there is a lot of waterhemp, foxtail and volunteer wheat that is managing to hang on and grow in this weather, and unfortunately, they consume what little moisture is available.

Weeds continue to grow despite the low moisture and high temperatures. They rob essential nutrients and moisture from the bean crop and we are adding to the seed bank for next year. Be sure if you spray this late in the season to follow all labels and be aware of any interactions between growth stage of the beans and the chemical family you use.

In instances where we have better growing conditions, be aware of the beans growth stage and plan any fungicide treatments accordingly. Again, with the hot, dry weather and low-disease pressure this may not be economically feasible this year. However, scout and know where your growth stage is and what yield potential you may be protecting if you do spray. The same goes for any insecticide applications. Overall, insect pressure is nonexistent in most bean fields now – the one break that this weather has given us.

So here we sit, waiting on August rains to determine what the double-crop bean outcome will be for 2017. Use this time to scout and learn, agronomically, what is taking place in your fields.

Kelly Robertson is a Certified Professional Agronomist and a Certified Crop Adviser. He has a Masters of Science (MS) in Plant and Soil Science and has spent 25 years as a soil fertility agronomist and precision agriculture consultant in southern Illinois while also spending 4 years as a Farm/Agronomy Manager and GIS Coordinator for a large farm in southeastern Illinois.  

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About the Author: Kelly Robertson

Kelly Robertson has been a soil fertility agronomist and precision agriculture consultant since 1989 and also spends time in farm/agronomy management roles for farms in Southern Illinois. In 2012, Kelly and his wife Lori started Precision Crop Services in Benton where they provide agronomic services for their customers including soil testing, crop scouting, data analysis, GPS/GIS services including variable rate seeding and fertility recommendations as well as farm and agronomy management for their customers. He is a Certified Professional Agronomist, Certified Crop Advisor, Certified 4R Nutrient Management Specialist, 2015 Illinois Soybean Association Double-Crop Specialist, 2016 Illinois CCA of the Year and the 2021 Illinois Soybean Assoc. Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting Award winner.