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View from the Cab: All about beans

The calendar has flipped to April and many growers are closely watching the weather to see when they can put seed in the ground. For some, this means soybean planting.

Achieving higher soybean yields often takes an entire system approach, according to Greg Ury of BASF. I listened to Ury speak during an agronomy panel discussion last month in Livingston County.

“I do believe there are key components and key factors,” he said.

Growers must understand soybeans are more source limited than corn. A corn plant is running in eight cylinders while a soybean plant is running on six. The key is figuring out how to get maximum canopy on the days with the most sunlight.

Planting date impacts our ability to capture sunlight and impacts yields. Much of the microbial activity in the soil is driven by pH and seed treatment has completely changed the game.

“Soybeans do not like wet feet,” Ury said.

Improved drainage is one way you can get more yield with an increased number of pods, bigger seeds and greater weight.

Ury also explained planting date studies conducted over the past few years. An earlier date in 2016 seemed to help as soybeans planted in March marked the first time his company ever hit 100 bushels at their research farm near Seymour.

“Vegetative stage doesn’t change by planting date,” Ury observed.

Soybeans planted at the research farm in February 2017 weren’t up until April 10 but were still the second highest yielding soybeans on the farm.

“We ended up with only a 49 percent stand,” Ury explained. “Beans can compensate for population challenges.”

Anything is possible as Ury has observed 96 bushel soybeans after four snows fell on top of the field in 2018. If we get warm temperatures in May, that gets beans growing and moving through the reproductive period.

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