From soil testing to reviewing the year, University of Arkansas agronomist Jeremy Ross gives a 10-step plan for high yield soybeans.
1. Soil Test! Lime and fertilize for soybean according to test results. Apply an inoculant specific for soybean if soybean has not been grown on this land in the last three years or previous soybean crops have had poor nodulation.
2. Variety Selection. Plant recommended varieties for your location and planting situation (see recommended variety list in 2010 Soybean Updates or SOYVA). Consider plant characteristics other than yield. Plant varieties of different maturities to spread risks. Know soybean seed germination and accelerated aging values.
3. Crop Rotation. Rotate land so that soybean and other legumes are planted (on the same site) no more than twice every three years. If field has nematodes, plant an appropriate nematode resistant soybean variety. Avoid deep sands or eroded clay soils.
4. Tillage Practices. For soils with a restrictive plow pan, use deep tillage (12-inch-14-inch) to get deep soybean rooting. For conservation tillage, use strip tillage and/or traffic control to reduce soil compaction.
5. Use good cultural practices!
a. Plant between April 10 and June 10.
b. Plant in rows 7 to 38 inches wide.
c. Consider using twin-row planters with wider beds.
d. Plant about 160,000 seed per acre (about 12 seed per foot for 36-inch row spacing) for a final plant stand of 120,000 to 130,000 plants per acre.
e. Plant seed 1.0 to 1.25 inch deep in moist soil.
f. Plant when soil temperature 2-inch deep is between 65° and 90° F.
g. If irrigating, apply water i. Use Irrigation Scheduler. ii. During vegetative growth if leaf wilt occurs by mid-day. iii. During reproductive growth (R2-R5) to supplement rainfall so that soybeans receive 2.25-3.0 inches of water weekly.
6. Control weeds!
a. In reduced tillage production systems, do everything possible to obtain a weed-free seedbed at planting.
b. Consider using a soil applied herbicide such as Prowl or Valor.
c. Apply post-emergence herbicides when weeds are 2-4 inches tall.
d. Be on the lookout for glyphosate and ALS-resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed).
e. Consider LibertyLink soybean varieties and Ignite herbicide where glyphosate-resistant weeds are a problem.
f. See the 2011 Recommended Chemicals for Weed and Brush Control — MP44 for more weed control information.
7. Control insects!
a. Apply insecticide seed treatments to control soil borne insects and suppress some above ground insects.
b. Scout fields weekly from R3-R8, treat for stinkbugs, and other pod/foliage feeding insects as needed. (See 2011 Insecticide Recommendations for Arkansas — MP144)
8. Control foliar diseases!
a. Apply fungicide seed treatments to control seedling diseases.
b. Scout fields weekly to monitor for leaf diseases.
c. Post-bloom (R1-R6), apply foliar fungicide if foliar diseases are detected at economic thresholds in your local fields. (See 2011 Arkansas Plant Disease Control Products Guide — MP154)
9. Make a timely harvest. Harvest soon after maturity to reduce seed shatter and maintain good seed quality.
a. Adjust combine to match crop and field situation.
b. Begin harvest soon after soybean seed have dried to a reasonable moisture to avoid loss by shattering.
10. Review the year.
a. Determine the cause of problem areas (poor fertility, herbicide resistant weeds, nematodes, poor drainage, compaction issues, etc.).
b. Begin planning for the next year. Determine solutions for problem areas. Start land preparation to have a head start for the next year.
This article appeared in the April 5, 2011, issue of Soybean Notes.