With soybean yield potential at 100 bushel per acre before being planted, we believe the ability for greater profit from soybeans is definetly possible and that more should be done to minimize soybean yield loss. Following are some recommendations to maximize profits from soybeans.Variety Selection Criteria -
Soil Fertility -
Soybeans require 16 elements for optimum growth and reproduction. The soybean plant gets it Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen requirement from the atmosphere. Because soybeans are a legume, it is able to symbiotically fix most of its Nitrogen. The other elements must come from the soil. Soil test for all required soil nutrients to make sure all are present and in the right balance.
1. Herbicide Program - RR or Conventional.
2. Maturity Group - on average we have found that using a early to mid group 3 soybean gives the best chance for the highest yield.
3. Check for Cysts - generally high cyst will increase the possibility of SDS. However SDS is possible without cysts. Cyst and SDS are the biggest determent to yield once the plant is in the ground. If needed, be sure to use a cyst resistant soybean with good SDS tolerance, and if a cyst resistant been is not needed then select a bean with good SDS tolerance.
4. Evaluate varieties based on diseases such as Brown Stem Rot, Phytophthra, and White Mold tolerance.
Planting Date -
Dramatic changes and better technology have moved the planting date earlier and earlier every year. The ideal soil temperature for soybeans germinatin and emergence is 77 degress Fahrenhite. Our recommendation of optimal planting date for soybeans if soil conditions are suitable is during the last week of April and the first week of May. There is an average loss of about 0.25 - 0.5 bushel per acre when planting is delayed by one day after the optimum window.
Seed Treatments -
Our research has shown an average increase of 2 bushel when using soybean inoculate on soybeans following corn and a 5 bushel increase on soybeans coming out of CRP or following a continueous corn rotation. With the average price of inoculate around $.75/acre, we feel that inoculating soybeans is a no brainer.
Seeding Rate -
An optimal plant population for soybean production is one that maximizes both yield and profitability. Best yields are achieved when final stands are around 125,000 plants per acres. Plant population depends on seedbed conditions, planter settings, planting into a poor seed bed, use of poor quality seed, inaccurate planter adjustments, planting too fast, soil moisture extremes, and environmentally induced plant injuries, reduce plant population requiring a greater seeding rate. Increasing the seeding rate by 15% over desired final plant stand to compensate for plant loss is a good estimate. With the current price for a bag of soybeans around $32 per bag, our recommendation for planting rate to optimize profit would be 145,000 plants per acre.
Row Spacing -
In most cases, there is no difference in row spacing under 20 inches and anything less than 30 inches is considered narrow rows. Planting in narrow rows will increase soybean yields an average of 5%. The question surrounding row spacing is "Will the increase in yield pay for the cost of replacing or altering the planter to plant in narrow rows?"
Herbicide Application -
Delayed herbicide application is costly. Many growers try to delay application and get by with one application. 5 days past the optimum spray window more often than not will result in a 2 - 5 bushel yield loss from weed competition. 10 days delay will cause greater the 5 bushel yield loss. With many soybean herbicide applications only costing between $5-$7, we recommend an early application to get the jump on weeds and then a later application if needed to maximize profit.
Fungicide Application -
Fungicides do not increase yield; rather, they protect crops from yield loss that are associated with environmental stress, certain diseases or both. Along with controlling rust, some common fungal diseases controlled by certain fungicides are Brown spot, Frog eye leaf spot, Stem anthracnose and complexes of the above diseases. Compelling data exists which indicate that apart from disease, fungicides can impact plant physiology in such a way that can help plants avoid a certain percentage of yield loss in crops exposed to light to moderate stress. Severe stress will overwhelm the system and that is one reason why yields may not be higher in crops treated with a fungicide compared with non-treated crops. We recommend spraying a fungicide at the R3 stage only if there is light to moderate stress on the plant, or if any of the above mentioned diseases or soybean rust is a threat.
Harvest - The goal when harvesting soybeans, is to keep harvest loss under 1 bushel. Studies have shown harvest loss to be as high as 15%. Check losses periodically in the field and make adjustments accordingly. To keep harvest loss to a minimum do the following: keep a level seed bed; keep the cutterbar as close to the ground as possible; don't drive to fast. Most combines today with platform headers are able to operate without problems at 3-4 miles per hour; use reel speed about 10-25 percent faster than ground speed; keep the reel axle 6 to 12 inches ahead of the cutterbar and as low as possible. Reel bats should leave beans just as they are cut and the reel depth should be just enough to control the beans; complete the harvest as quickly as possible after beans reach 13 percent moisture content. Damage increases at lower moisture as well as at excesssive moisture.