Soybeans got off to one of the best starts I’ve seen since I started working as an agronomist. Emergence was good for all row spacing layouts, tillage styles, varieties planted, etc. We couldn’t have asked for a better start.
However, with all the excess rain that we have had in June soybeans are going backwards fast. We have drowned-out areas, we have saturated soils leading to anaerobic soil conditions, we have fields with hail and/or wind damage, and all these detrimental effects are not good for a crop that started out so well. Now we need to depend on the soybeans’ ability to compensate for lost plants and early season stress and still yield respectably.
In the last couple of weeks I have been tissue sampling a number of fields. The results coming back are pretty much what I expected. In saturated areas we are finding deficiencies in nitrogen, phosphorus and a number of micronutrients. In fact, 90% of the samples taken show a nitrogen deficiency. That means yellow soybeans due to lack of nitrogen fixation, loss of soil nitrate due to leaching and denitrification, and no nitrogen mineralization.
The other nutrient that seems to stick out is sulfur. Sulfur is deficient in over half of the samples we have taken this year. Remember, sulfur is taken up as sulfate and the fate of sulfate in the soil with excess rain is the same as the fate of nitrate. They act very similarly. I have some plots out this year that have nitrogen and/or sulfur as part of the fertility program. I will share the results with you as we go through the season.
My suggestion at this point is to pay attention to your soybeans from here on out. A lot of our pre-emergent herbicide is starting to wear off, too. Do some tissue sampling of the soybeans now; that way when the field becomes dry enough to spray, you can add some foliar nutrients to the post-herbicide mix.
Don’t wait to scout or take action. That next rain could be right around the corner.