Author Archives: David Holshouser

About David Holshouser

David serves as Associate Professor & Extension Agronomist at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center. He provides leadership for agronomic extension and research programs that lead to profitable and environmentally-responsible agriculture.

Virginia Soybean Yield Contest Results Announced

2017 was a great year to grow soybean.  We set a new record for average soybean yields in Virginia and most were generally happy with their soybean crop.

Although we did not break Keith Brankley’s 2012 Virginia record of 109 bushels per acre (and this was not irrigated), we did induct 3 new members into the 100-bushel club with the help of irrigation.  We also inducted 3 new members into the 90-bushel club and 4 new members into the 80-bushel club without the aid of irrigation.

I invite you to the Virginia Grain and Soybean Conference to share in their success and maybe get a few pointers on how to be the first inductee into the 110-bushel (or greater) club in 2018.

Below are a list of winners:

Double-Crop Contest

3rd place – Patti Craun with 66.8 bu/A using Pioneer P46T30X

2nd place – Kevin Craun with 67.2 bu/A using Pioneer P46T30X

1st place – Steve Smith with 72.3 bu/A using Channel 4916RX/SR

Full-Season Contest

3rd place – Michael Downing with 92.6 bu/A using Asgrow AG45X6

2nd place – Stephen Ellis with 93.8 bu/A using Axis 3916NR

1st place – Curtis Packett with 96.2 bu/A using Asgrow AG4135

Irrigated Contest

3rd place – Steve Hudson with 100.8 bu/A using Channel 4916R2X/SR

2nd place – Jonathan Hudson with 101.5 bu/A using Channel 4916R2X/SR

1st place – Frank Hula with 104.2 bu/A using Local Seed Co. TS3959R2S

The Virginia Grain & Soybean Conference is less than 2 weeks away!

On behalf of both the Virginia Soybean and Virginia Grain Producers Associations, I invite you to join me for the 2018 Virginia Grain and Soybean Annual Conference on February 20-21, 2018. The conference will span two days and is being held at the Richmond Westin Hotel to provide a convenient, comfortable and inviting environment for attendees and their families. In response to increased interest, this year the conference will have a greatly expanded exhibit hall providing a larger and more prominent space for exhibitors and attendees to network.

Continuing to honor your requests that we not include information that you received at the county and regional meetings, we continue to include exciting, innovative, and largely non-production  oriented speakers.  Furthermore, following the success of last year’s two-day program, the conference has added even more breakout topics, speakers, and programming to help you run a strong, profitable operation. The program will feature keynote speakers and topics certain to bring value to your operation, including:  Smithfield Foods’ Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Commodity Hedging Officer Dhamu Thamodaran; The Port of Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Area Manager Kara Matzko; and FBI Counterintelligence Training Center Special Agents Mark Betten and Matthew Seckers discussing the topic of intellectual property security and the agriculture industry.

As always, your registration includes all meals including a full dinner that will follow the networking reception Tuesday evening, giving you additional time to network and spend time with colleagues and speakers.

Click Here for Individual Registration

Click Here for Sponsorship Opportunities & Sponsors Registration

What’s on the Agenda?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

10:30am Registration & Exhibitor Trade Show Opens

11:30am Lunch Buffet Opens

12:00pm Lunch & Commodity Market Speaker

Robert Harper, Grain Division Manager, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation

1:00pm Breakout Sessions – Choose One

Weed & Pest Management in Grain & Soybeans

Charlie Cahoon & Michael Flessner, Virginia Tech

Soil Health Strategies for Increased Yields

Chris Lawrence, NRCS Cropland Agronomist & Dr. Mark Reiter, Eastern Shore AREC

Opportunities & Challenges on the Horizon

Dicamba Update from Monsanto

Rapeseed & Organic Opportunities for a Profitable Rotation, Jeff riddell, Perdue AgriBusiness

2:15pm Break & Visit with Exhibitors

2:30pm Breakout Session Repeated – Choose One

3:45pm Break & Visit with Exhibitors

4:00pm Globalization of Agriculture & Commodities

Dhamu Thamodaran, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Commodity Hedging Officer of Smithfield Foods

5:00pm Reception & Networking in the Exhibit Hall

6:00pm Awards Dinner

This includes corn and soybean yield contest winner presentations.  Although we did not break Keith Brankley’s 2012 Virginia record of 109 bushels per acre, we did induct 3 new members into the 100-bushel club, 3 new members into the 90-bushel club, and 4 new members into the 80-bushel club.  Of course David Hula and other corn farmers continue to break yield records in that crop – the number of winners is too large to list in this small space.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

7:30am Breakfast Buffet Opens

8:00am Annual Meetings, Elections, and Reports

8:30am Updates from Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry Bettina Ring

Break & Visit with Exhibitors

10:00am Managing Security Risks in Agricultural Trade

Special Agent Matthew Seckers, FBI, Richmond Division and Special Agent Mark Betten, Unit Chief for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Training Center, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

11:00am The Agriculture Industry and the Port of Virginia: Growing New Markets

Kara Matzko, Mid-Atlantic Area Manager, Port of Virginia

12:00pm Dicamba Training & Certification Lunchon

Chelsea Valenti, BASF Crop Protection

Where Can I Stay?

We have reserved a room block at the Richmond Westin at the discounted price of $129 per night. Reservations must be made on or before February 6, 2018 by calling 1-888-627-7786. Reference the “Grain & Soybean Annual Conference” rate. You may also visit:

https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/VGASA2018

 

Good Soybean Yields in Virginia for 2017

It was a challenging harvest season, but we harvested our last plot today.  Yields were very good, ranging from the upper 40’s to upper 70’s.  Across all maturity groups in our variety tests, full-season yields averaged 63.3 bushels/acre and double-crop averaged 60.0 bushels/acre.

Virginia soybean are now predicted to average 45 bushels/acre, a new state record.  We are just shy of the predicted national average.  Over the last 20 years, we have been increasing yields at a rate of 0.6 bushels/acre per year.  This is quite a feat!  While better genetics are part of this increase, I think that most of the increase is coming from better overall management of the crop.  This management includes long term (e.g., better soil quality, etc.) and short term (e.g., timely planting, etc.). 

Of course, we cannot forget the weather.  It was relatively cool during the critical pod and seed development stages.  More importantly, rain came at the right time.

2017 Virginia Soybean Variety Results

Below are some preliminary results to our soybean variety tests.  I caution you that these are preliminary – some changes could still be made.  But, I feel pretty good about the data presented here.  Some double-crop data from Orange and Painter is still outstanding due to variability.  We will be trying to determine its cause and have those data available ASAP.

Workhorses, Racehorses, and Quarter horses

Today is the first day in 2 weeks that we’ve been able to harvest due to weather and a combine breakdown.  So, we are not that much farther along in getting variety test data to you than we were last week.  However, I hope to get out some preliminary data by Thanksgiving.

Last week, I indicated that certain relative maturities do better in some parts of Virginia than others.  This week, I I’ll get a little more specific and discuss choosing the best variety for a given yield potential.

First and foremost, I will continue to emphasize that variety selection should be based on multi-year multi-site data.  Basing your selection on a single test (maybe closest to you) and single year is a recipe for failure.  However, I don’t necessarily recommend always choosing a variety based on average yields over site-years – although a very good place to start.  This may seem a little contradictory, but let me explain.

Certain varieties do better under high-yielding environments.  I like to call these “racehorse” varieties.  Choose such a variety if you want to win a yield contest.  Other varieties may yield more than others under stressful conditions.  I refer to these as “workhorses”.  And there are some that tend to do well, regardless of the yield potential – I’ll call these “quarter horses” (quarter horses can run very fast for short distances and you can still ride them long distances over quite rugged terrain).

Last year, we analyzed 5 years of variety test data and classified all varieties that we tested as one of the above.  Examples of our results are shown below. The graphs represent the yield of a single variety versus the yield of all varieties tested at that site and year.  Each symbol represents a different site-year.

To summarize, the vast majority of varieties are neither racehorses or workhorses; they perform equally in all yield environments.  So, averages will work just fine in most cases.  But, if you know you have a great- or poor yielding soil or if you are irrigating, then you may want to look into those varieties that fit that situation.

We have all of these data in an excel spreadsheet.  If interested, let me know; I’ll be happy to share upon request.

What’s the Best Soybean Maturity Group for your Farm

Yields are coming in from our variety tests – yields are good, not great, but good, ranging from the upper 40’s to low 70’s.  I hope to get a summary of the maturity group (MG) 3 and 4 tests out soon.  Be looking for them.

In the meantime, a questions that continues to arise if “What is the best maturity group for my farm?”  Or “What’s the best maturity group for my field?”  This is a very valid question.  Some years MG 4’s will shine and other years the MG 5’s are best.  Occasionally, MG 3 or 6 look good (the 6’s have been performing very well lately – as long as the frost holds off until mid-Nov!

An attempt was recently made (and published) to redrawn the MG lines in the U.S (Mourtzinis and Conley, 2017) – see the map to the upper right.  The researchers used variety test data from nearly all states to come up with the map shown.  While this map is more-or-less accurate when looking at the U.S. as a whole, it is not when you look closer (i.e., at individual states).

To better answer your questions regarding MG’s in Virginia, we took 10 years of our variety test data (around 15,000 plots) and began evaluating the probability of:

  1. a relative maturity (RM) yielding at least as high as the other RM’s tested at that location
  2. a RM yielding significantly higher than the other RM’s tested at that location.

Results are shown in the following graphs. Note that we split the results into full-season and double-crop soybean.  We have also divided each MG into early-, mid-, and late-RM’s.  The total bar height answers question 1 – the probability that the RM does at least as well at the others.  For instance, as expected, there is an 80 to 100% probability that MG 5’s will yield at least as much as other relative maturities in Blackstone (Southern Piedmont, droughty clay soils).

The hatched part of the bars answer question 2 – the probability that the RM yields significantly more that the other RM’s.  Using the Blackstone example, the 5’s yield significantly more than other MG’s 30 to 60% of the time.

Of course the “devil is in the details”.  There are soil properties and environmental conditions that control which RM is best in a given year.  If interested, contact me; I’ll give you my preliminary thoughts on that.  Rainfall is definitely the biggest influence – not how much we receive but when it falls; but that is random in Virginia.  There are other issues.

 

To summarize:

  • MG 3’s and 4’s are best suited for the most northern and western location (Orange).
  • MG 5’s perform best in our most southerly locations (Blackstone and Suffolk).  But, the late 4’s can make a strong showing in some years, especially at Suffolk (I think I know why; its not just when the rain fell. Contact me.)
  • Both MG 4’s and 5’s perform well at Warsaw (we can’t explain the full-season late-4 results, yet).  Note that yield potential of the later 5’s decline with double-crop plantings at this northerly, but Coastal Plain site (probably frost damage).
  • All MG 4’s (early, mid, and late) perform best when planted in May at our Eastern Shore location (Painter).  There are curious things happening here (while not that far south, its our most easterly and probably the most consistently favorable environment for growing soybean).  Note that early- and mid-4’s are no better than 5’s when planted double-crop.

1st Attempt at a Relative Maturity Map in Virginia

I’ve made an attempt at drawing a Virginia map.  But do not read too much into this!  This is based only on 5 locations (although 10 site-years and thousands of plots at each location) and the “devils in the detail”.  An I did not use GIS to draw this map (the lines are not 100% accurately located).

Do not assume that I want you to plant only these RM in these areas, only that these tend to do best in most years.

How do you use these data?  Make most of your chosen varieties fit these results.  However, allocate a smaller acreage to those RM’s that can occasionally break records.

On a closing note, these data also indicate that early RM’s do better on our best, most productive land.  But, that’s a topic for next week.

Estimating Soybean Yield

This is the time of year when many are wondering what kind of yield potential is out there.  You can estimate your yield using the steps outlined below.  But I will warn you that such an estimate is not very accurate until soybean reach the late-R6 or R7 stage.  In my experience, when trying to estimate yields during the late-R5 or early-R6 stages, cut the estimate in half – believe it or not, that usually works!

My point is to use extreme caution.  Never make additional sales based on these “estimates”.  But, such an estimate is useful if you’re thinking about entering a yield contest or just to help ease some worries (or maybe cause more).

To estimate soybean yield:

  1. Calculate the number of pod-bearing plants per acre.  Use the 1/100th of an acre method: Count the number of plants per 70 foot of row (7.5-inch spacing), 35 foot per row (15-inch spacing), or 17.5 foot per row (30-inch spacing) – You can adjust this for other row spacings; then multiply by 1000.  Do this in 5 to 10 locations per field, depending on field size or area of interest.
  2. Estimate the number of pods per plant.  Some say to collect 10 random plants.  I don’t particularly like this method because we tend to select the best plants and overlook the weaker ones with few pods.  I suggest taking 10 plants in a row from the same locations you sampled for plant population.  Divide the number by 10 to get pods per plant.
  3. Estimate the number of seed per pod.  This gets a little more difficult.  You can choose a number from visually observations or you can just use 2, 2.5, or 3 seed per pod to get a range.  If the seed are mature, you can shell and count all pods from several plants at each  sampling location (just remember how many pods you shelled).
  4. Estimate the number of seed per pound.  3,000 seed per pound is about average, but it can range from 3,500 to 2,500 per pound.  Also, be careful with varieties that commonly contain 3 seed pods; the seed of these varieties will almost always be smaller.  Another way to do this is to weigh the seed that you shelled from step 3 – be careful, you need to account for seed moisture and if the seed are not yet mature, they may have not stopped filling.

Use the numbers above to calculate yield using the equation below:

Bushels per Acre  = [(plants/1,000th acre) x (pods/plant) x (seeds/pod)] ÷ (seeds/pound) ÷ (60 pounds/bushel)

The easiest mistake to make is in steps 3 and 4.  I suggest using a range of seed per pod and seeds/pound.  With experience, you’ll get pretty good with yield estimates.

2017 Virginia Soybean Yield Contest

The Virginia Soybean Association in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension would like to announce the 2017 Virginia Soybean Yield Contest. The purpose of the Virginia Soybean Yield Contest is to emphasize and demonstrate the practices necessary to produce maximum economic yields, to recognize those producers who grow high-yielding soybeans, and to gather data on the practices utilized by these outstanding producers. With the help of various seed companies, we reward and promote the achievements of Virginia’s most productive soybean farmers.

There are four Soybean Yield Contest categories: 1) Full-Season, Non-irrigated; 2) Double-Crop, Non-irrigated; and 3) Irrigated (encompasses Full-Season and Double-Crop); and 4) Most Efficient Yield (MEY). First, second, and third place winners of the full-season, double-crop, and irrigated contest will be recognized with appropriate trophies or plaques. In addition, cash awards of $200, $100, and $50 will be presented to the first, second, and third place winners in each of these categories. The winner of the MEY contest will receive a plaque declaring him or her the most efficient soybean producer in Virginia for that year.

In addition, the United Soybean Board is supporting a Soybean Quality Contest for the 2017 season.  The Iowa State University Grain Quality Lab with evaluate these samples for protein, oil, and other quality measures.  You can obtain a sample bag from me.  If you do not have one at the time of harvest, just save a seed sample in a 1 gallon bag and send in to my office.

Printable entry forms and contest details can be obtained from your County Agent or on my website:  (https://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/tidewater/extension/soybean.html).  I look forward to seeing your entries.

What You’ll See in the Field at the Virginia Ag Expo

As another reminder, the Virginia Ag Expo is Thursday, Aug. 3 at Renwood Farms in Charles City.  The event opens at 7:30 am and will run through mid-afternoon.

There is something for all corn and soybean farmers in the field this year.  Go on the field tour and you will be able to chat with Extension Specialists, company reps, and others about the research being conducted or anything else on your mind.

As always, the Ag Expo is home of one of our numerous on-farm corn hybrid and soybean variety tests.  This year, you will view 31 corn hybrids from 11 companies and 47 soybean varieties from 14 companies.  Drs. Mike Flessner and Charlies Cahoon will demonstrate off-site herbicide injury with some of our newest seed/chemical technologies.  Dr. Wade Thomason is evaluating in-furrow and starter fertilizer in corn.  The soil fertility team, led by Dr. Mark Reiter, is investigating fertilizer recommendations to ensure optimum production for high yielding soybeans.  You will view one of Dr. David Holshouser’s seeding rate trials as he is in the process of establishing variable rate seeding recommendations.  You will also see an experiment that you may have viewed at last year’s Ag Expo investigating the interaction of planting date with relative maturities.  Companies are participating in our plots with in-furrow and foliar sprays that offer potential to enhance yield potential under high-yielding conditions.  Finally, you’ll go below ground to view Virginia’s state soil, a Pamunkey loam, and discuss this yield contest-winning properties with NRCS personnel.

This is a walking, go-at-your-own-pace tour designed to fit your interest and schedule.  Buses will be running continuously to take you to and from the plots.  Enjoy!

2017 Virginia Ag Expo Returns to Charles City County

Please note: the date for the Virginia Ag Expo is August 3, 2017.

“Focused on Productivity, Management and Stewardship” is the theme for the 2017 Virginia Ag Expo.  The Virginia Ag Expo, hosted by the Virginia Grain Producers Association and the Virginia Soybean Association in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension, is the largest agricultural field day held in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  As an educational, marketing and social event farmers and agribusiness look forward to the Virginia Ag Expo each year.

Renwood Farms, owned and operated by The Stanley Hula Family, will be hosting this year’s Ag Expo on August 3.  The Hula Family’s farm is a diversified operation growing over 6,000 acres of corn, soybeans and small grains; along with seed conditioning and sales.  A focus on management and productivity at Renwood Farms has produced the world record corn yield of 532 bushels per acre by David Hula.  In addition, the USG soybean seed that produced the world record yield of 172 bushels per acre was grown and conditioned at Renwood Farms.

Over 150 exhibitors and sponsors will have on display all of the most up to date equipment, goods and services for agricultural producers and property owners no matter how large or small.

The event opens at 7:30 am.  The field tour, starting at 8 am, is a walking, go-at-your-own-pace tour designed to fit your interest and schedule.  Buses will be running continuously to take you to and from the plots.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided by Virginia food vendors. Attendees will be able to eat any time from 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

Renwood Farms is located at 17303 Sandy Point Road, Charles City, VA 23030.