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.

Soybean Sprouting in the Pods/Pod Splitting

We are seeing immature soybean once again sprouting in the pods in Suffolk and Gloucester County, and I heard of this happening in other states.  This seems to occur every 3-6 years somewhere.  Although I don’t have a great explanation for why this occurs, it usually happens when there are good growing conditions early followed by 2-4 weeks of drought stress during pod formation, and then excellent conditions return for seed fill.  Typically, it happens in big-canopied soybean (lots of leaf area) with lots of yield potential, but not enough pods (or big enough pods) to fulfill that potential.  I think that the seeds enlarge so much that the pod splits.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about immature seeds and pods.  This can also occur after the crop matures (R7 to R8) when we get excessive rainfall after the seed in question has dried down.  But, I have not seen that yet this year.

There is little that you can do about it.  Those sprouted seed will usually dry up on the plant and be blown out the back of the combine.

Although there has to be some yield loss, I’ve not seen it to be very great.  And, I suspect that if you did not notice the sprouted seed, you probably would not know that you had a loss.

For more information, see previous blogs on this subject.

Wet Conditions May Lead to Soybean Seed Sprouting

The Good and Bad of a Wet September

Calibrate your yield monitor – a checklist

While this post is likely too late for corn, it does apply to other crops.  If you have yet harvested all of your corn, it’s never too late to calibrate your yield monitor.

First, I am no expert in calibrating yield monitors.  My experience with the process only involves showing up to the farm with an accurate weigh wagon (or we use their grain cart), riding with the combine operator as he harvests a known area of the field, weighing the load and obtaining a moisture from the load (with a calibrated moisture tester), then watch him do the calibration.

Still, I understand the need for calibration although it takes time and may mean looking in the manual to learn or refresh one’s memory on the process.

John Barker, Knox County Extension Educator (Ohio State Extension) wrote an excellent article, “It’s almost that time of year … Don’t forget to calibrate your yield monitor!”, which is a step-by-step checklist of how to do this.  I highly encourage all to read it.

We do have several weigh wagons located around the state that Virginia Cooperative Extension uses for our on-farm research.  If you want me or one of your County Agents to help with this process, let us know.

Finishing Out the Soybean Crop – What do we need for Good Yields?

In general, we’ve had a good, but not great year for soybean in Virginia.  Although many areas were hit with a 3 to 4 week dry spell during July, August rains kept us in the game.  However, we did not see the ample  rains or cool temperatures that we experienced in August of 2017, which resulting in record yields.  Below is a summary of August rainfall and temperature anomalies for the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you’ll notice,  we had about average or slightly below average precipitation and average to slightly above average temperatures for most of Virginia’s soybean growing areas.

So, I do not suspect that our yields will be as good as last year.  Still, our earlier-maturing varieties planted in April or May should yield quite respectably considering that most have made over 50% of their yield – they have reached the R6 stage (see photo below).  Yield of our later-maturing varieties, planted in May and early June, and our double-crop plantings are not quite there yet – much of our yield is yet to be determined – R5 soybean have only made roughly 25% of their yield at that time.

So, what do we need for good yields?  Rain is obvious.  Full-canopied plants with adequate soil moisture will draw about 0.25 inches of water/day from the soil.  But, we also need cool temperatures – soybean do not generally like 90+ degree days, especially when forming seed.

Below is the 10 day rainfall and temperature forecast for the U.S., and it does not necessarily look good for us.  Note that the rainfall is predicted accumulation and the temperature map shows anomaly.  Although we should get some rain this weekend only (more in northern parts), temperatures are supposed to be above average.  But, forecasts are only forecasts.  The weather does change.  I hope we will get the needed rainfall that they are predicting this weekend.  But a big ridge appears to be setting up over the Mid-Atlantic states for next week.  This usually means warm weather and only at the edges of ridges do we normally see rainfall – note the heavy rainfall predicted from Nebraska through Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t mean to discourage, just to inform.  We still have decent soil moisture, at least in the subsoil.  With rain this weekend, we should get through next week without too much harm to the crop.

Our double-crop soybean (assuming late maturity group 4’s and group 5’s planted in late June to July) are just now in the R5 stage – it usually takes 80 to 100 days from planting to reach R6, depending on maturity and planting date.  So some timely September rains will usually result in good double-crop soybean.

When will our yield be “made”?  Below is table showing the number of days to soybean physiological maturity (R7; 95% of yield has made).  When can we expect to be harvesting our soybean?  Full maturity is reached about 2 weeks after R7 and harvest can proceed after the soybean have dried down to a harvestable moisture, usually within a week after R8.

2017 Virginia On-Farm Wheat Test Plots

The 2017 Virginia On-Farm Wheat Test Plots have been published and are now available on the Virginia Cooperative Extension website.  For more information or a hard copy, contact Mike Broaddus, Extension Agent, at the Caroline County office.

he demonstration and research plot results discussed in this publication are a cooperative effort by seven Virginia Cooperative Extension agents, extension specialists from Virginia Tech, and a VCE summer intern. We are proud to present this year’s on-farm small grain plot work to you. We hope the information in this publication will help farmers produce a profitable crop in 2018.

Small Grain Yield Contests Show High Yields Across the Commonwealth

The Virginia Grain Producers Association is proud to announce the 2018 Virginia Wheat and Hard Wheat Yield Contest Winners.

This year’s winners come from counties across the Commonwealth and have once again proven that Virginia producers are capable of achieving exceptional yields. Yield contests, such as this, are an important element in our mission to highlight and communicate the accomplishments of Virginia agriculture to our industry partners and the general public. The top-ranked growers will be given cash prizes donated by the providers of their winning seed, and will be fully recognized with a plaque presented by one of our industry leaders at the Virginia Grains and Soybean Annual Conference next February.

At 108.6 bushels per acre, Alan Welch’s wheat took first place. Katie Myer’s hard wheat yield of 85.7 bushels per acre claimed first prize.

The hard wheat portion of the contest is sponsored by Mennel Milling to highlight the planting of hard wheat in the Commonwealth. Hard wheat is primarily used as a bread wheat. The majority of the wheat grown in Virginia is soft red winter wheat, which is used in bakery products such as flat breads, cakes, pastries and crackers.

 2018 Virginia Wheat Yield Contest Winners

 1st Place $700: Alan Welch, Welch Farms, Inc., Northumberland County

108.6 Bu/Acre, Pioneer 26R59

2nd Place $500: Justin Welch, Welch Farms, Inc., Northumberland County

105.5 Bu/Acre, Pioneer 26R59

3rd Place $300: Paul Davis, Davis Produce, New Kent County

89.6 Bu/Acre, AgriMaxx 463

 2018 Virginia Hard Wheat Yield Contest Winners

 1st Place $700: Katie Myer, Richmond County

85.7 Bu/Acre, Vision 45

2nd Place $500: Paul Davis, Davis Produce, New Kent County

78.5 Bu/Acre, Vision 45

Many thanks go out to The Mennel Milling Company of Virginia, Pioneer, AgriMaxx, and UniSouth Genetics (USG) for sponsoring the Small Grain Yield Contests.

Walk Your Fields

For greater soybean yields, one of the best things that you can do is walk your fields.  Many problems reveal themselves during the summer.  Actions taken or not taken can be very noticeable.  By walking fields, we can see what’s working and what’s not working.  Certain problems can be solved, some cannot.  For those that cannot be solved this year, we can do better next season by understanding why we have the problem.  Therefore, a review of how to diagnose your crop will likely beneficial.

A few years ago, I published “Troubleshooting The Soybean Crop“.  Although a little dated, most of the information is still good.  This publication will guide you through how to go about diagnosing problems, includes a vegetative- and reproductive-stage outline with lots of photos, and also includes a sample crop scouting and diagnostic form.  You can download a view a PDF copy, or contact me – I still have a few hard copies left.  By following some general guidelines, one can become quite good at diagnosing problems.  Below is a summary.

First, document everything!  Memories tend to fade.  We often forget or overlook details. You can document by taken notes (many phone apps or iPad/tablets work well for this).  Make a recording.  Take pictures – this is especially useful when you need help – and send those photos to others.

PRELIMINARY FACT FINDING.  You can obtain plenty of information before you even get to the field.  Although I call this preliminary (as if you’ve not seen the problem), you may need to go back to the office to refresh your memory of what you did.  Information that can be acquired beforehand or back in the office includes:     

  • Cropping History
  • Equipment
  • Soil Information
  • Weather
  • Pest Management Information
  • Tillage and Other Cultural Practices

THE FIELD VISIT

  • Take all materials and equipment needed (e.g., phones, paper, shovel, plastic bags, soil probes, etc.)
  • Windshield/Whole Field Investigation
  • Above-Ground Inspection
  • Take Appropriate Plant or Soil Samples
  • Equipment Check
  • Interaction with Others
  • Document Everything!

ANALYSIS OF DATA AND FINDINGS

  • Patterns
  • Look-Alike Symptoms
  • Interacting Factors/More Than One Problem

DRAWING A CONCLUSION. Review the facts and data.  Eliminate unlikely causes.  Validate likely causes.  You may be able to drawn a conclusion in the field, but lab analysis may be needed.

FOLLOW UP. Revisit the field.  If you took corrective action, did it work?  Why or why not?

This is a very rough outline of the guide.  Again, if you want a hard copy of Troubleshooting The Soybean Crop, contact me.

Yellow soybean leaves may be due to manganese (Mn) deficiency

Manganese (Mn) deficiencies are common in Virginia soybean and are starting to appear in numerous fields.  These deficiencies are not necessarily due to low Mn levels in the soil, but are more likely related to high soil pH levels, as its availability decreases with increasing soil pH.

Although soils with a pH of 6.2 or lower can occasional show Mn deficiencies, it is most likely to appear when pH levels reach 6.5 or above.  Furthermore, Mn deficiencies are more common on our sandier soils because pH changes more rapidly and these soils typically have a lower concentration of the nutrient.

The deficiency will appear as interveinal chlorosis, usually on the younger leaves first since Mn is not a mobile nutrient.  MnDeficiency0721101059This may distinguish Mn deficiency from magnesium (Mg) deficiency.  Magnesium deficiency symptoms will usually appear on the lower leaves while the upper leaves remain green.  Still, I’ve seen Mn deficiency on the lower to middle leaves.  This usually happens when the field has not been checked in a while and the observer missed the symptoms when they were on the younger leaves.Cyst nematode on roots

Other problems can cause look-alike symptoms similar to Mn deficiencies.  In particular, interveinal yellowing is a common symptom of soybean cyst or other nematode damage.  Therefore, it may be prudent to further investigate the problem, especially the root system.

Use the following guidelines for Mn applications:

Scout your fields.  Mn deficiencies may or may not materialize.  The only sure way to determine a deficiency is to observe the deficiency symptoms through visual observation or tissue tests.  The characteristic visual symptom is yellowing between the veins on the new leaves.  Mn is an immobile nutrient.  Therefore, it will not move out of older leaves to the new leaves.  Symptoms will appear when the plant can no longer extract sufficient amounts of the nutrient from the soil.

Take a tissue sample.  If Mn deficiencies are suspected due to high pH and/or a field history of Mn deficiencies, but no symptoms have yet appeared, you should consider taking a tissue sample.  Tissue samples can reveal deficiencies before symptoms appear (hidden hunger).  We suggest a tissue test if lime, lime stabilized biosolids, or an ash product was recently applied.

Manganese application.  To overcome a deficiency, apply ¾ lb. chelated Mn (elemental basis) or 1 lb. inorganic Mn (elemental basis) per acre to foliage upon appearance of symptoms and prior to flowering.  More than one application may be required to correct a severe deficiency.

Don’t use low rates to correct a deficiency.  Note that many Mn products recommend applying lower rates of Mn.  However, the label usually states that these are maintenance rates.  Once a deficiency occurs, these lower rates will not correct the deficiency and the rates stated above will be needed.

Split Mn application on deficiency-prone soils.  An alternate method of application can be used before a deficiency is evident on soils that commonly show a deficiency, especially on soils that have a high pH (above 6.8 or so).  A lower rate (~ ½ of that listed above) can be combined with another scheduled application, such as a postemergence herbicide or insecticide.  This may be a sufficient rate to prevent a deficiency from occurring.  But, continue to scout the field and take future corrective measures if visual deficiencies appear.  If a visual symptom appears, you need to use the full rate.  I will remind you that this is a preventative treatment.  A deficiency may not occur.  Furthermore, these are only maintenance rates and another application will likely be needed if the field is truly deficient.

Use EDTA chelated Mn formulations when mixing with glyphosate.  Be reminded that some Mn formulations in combination with glyphosate herbicide (Roundup, Touchdown, many generics, etc.) will result in reduced weed control of certain weeds.  Other herbicides have not shown to interact.  If including Mn with glyphosate, use the EDTA chelated formulation as it has shown not to interact.

Don’t spray if you don’t need it.  In addition to the cost, Mn can be toxic to soybean.  Spraying greater than recommended rates or spraying as a preventative spray when soil pH is relatively low (5.7-5.9) could lead to toxicity problems

Wet Soils, Poor Stands – Do I Replant?

The decision of whether or not to replant arises every year; however, the wet soil conditions seem to have worsened the problem this year.  There of course will be areas that the decision is easy – flooded areas resulting in almost no stand.  But, what about fields that just are not living up to your expectations?  I’ve seen and heard many reports of stands being reduced 25 to 50% of what was expected (keep in mind that our expectations are sometimes too high).

First, I must mention that final average stands of 60,000 to 80,000 plants/acre rarely profit from replanting.  Only when you get below 50,000 can it be economically justified.  I refer you to the seeding rate data shown.  Note that yield does not fall off until seeding rates fall below 90 to 120 thousand seed/acre (76 to 107 seed/acre on productive soils).  Stands generally averaged 75%; so, this is equal to  65 to 90 thousand plants/acre.  Once you add in the cost and of and time required to replant, it’s not usually worth it – unless the stand less than this.

 

 

Steps to Estimate the Profitability of Replanting Soybean

Determining whether or not to replant is hard.  To ease the pain, I’ve summarized some relatively simple steps to help in your decision.  One should incorporate 2- to 3-foot gaps into your decision to improve the estimation of yield loss.

  1. Determine the cause of the poor stand.  Was the poor stand the result of poor seed quality, cold wet soils, hot dry soils, planting too deep or shallow, soil crusting, herbicide injury, insect or slug feeding, poor soil to seed contact, or disease infection?  Determine if the cause can be corrected to avoid a similar situation.  If slug or insect feeding or disease is the cause, then you might expect poor stands again.
  2. Estimate the stand and percent stand loss due to gaps.  Pace off the sections of row 20 paces long in at least 6 areas of the field.  Determine (in number of paces) the total length of row lost to 2- to 3-foot gaps.  For drilled soybean, this can be interpreted at 2- to 3-foot diameter gaps.  Then determine the percent of row lost to gaps.  In addition, count and determine average number of plants per foot in sections of row not reduced by gaps.  The simplest method is to count the number of healthy plants (capable of recovery) in a length of row equaling 1/1000 of an acre.  For instance:
  • 36-inch rows = 14.5 feet
  • 30-inch rows = 17.5 feet
  • 20-inch rows = 26 feet
  • 15-inch rows = 35 feet
  • 7.5-inch rows = 70 feet

Then, just multiply your counts by 1,000 to get plants per acre.

Or, use the Tables 1 or 2 to determine remaining plant population.  The “hula hoop” method (Table 2) is valuable with drilled soybean or when rows cannot be distinguished.  This involves placing a circular measuring device such as a hula-hoop on the ground and counting the plants contained within.

Table 1. Plant populations of different row spacing with different plant counts per foot.
Plants/ foot Row Spacing
36 30 24 20 15 7.5
Plant Population (1,000’s/acre)
1 15 17 22 26 35 70
2 29 35 44 52 70 140
3 44 52 65 78 105 210
4 58 70 87 105 139 278
5 73 87 109 131 174
6 87 105 131 157 209
7 102 122 152 183 244
Table 2. Hula-hoop method for determining drilled soybean populations.
No. ofPlants Inside Diameter of Hula Hoop
30” 32” 34” 36” 38”
Plant Population (1,000’s/acre)a
6 53 47 41 37 33
10 89 78 69 62 55
14 124 109 97 86 77
18 160 140 124 111 100
22 196 172 152 136 122
26 231 203 179 160 144
aPlants/acre = no. plants ¸ (3.14 x r2 ¸ 43,560 ft2) where r = radius of hula hoop in feet.
  1. Estimate the yield of the poor stand.  Use Tables 3 and 4 to determine percent of yield potential for full-season and double-crop plantings, respectively.  Note that Table 3 is data from Illinois from the 1980’s. In my opinion, the remaining plant population numbers are too high.  Although I have not conducted full-season plant population studies that have included gaps, I suggest that you change those numbers to  60, 90, and 120 (based on Virginia data).  Multiply this percentage by the expected yield. This is the yield to expect from the deficient stand.
    Table 3. Yield response (% of maximum) of full-season soybeans to deficit standsa.
    % Stand lost to gapsb Remaining Plant Pop (1,000’s/A)
    70 105 140
    0 95 97 100
    10 93 96 98
    20 91 93 96
    30 88 90 93
    40 83 86 89
    50 78 81 84
    60 73 75 78
    aSource: Pepper and Wilmot.  Managing Deficit Stands. 1991. Illinois Cooperative Extension Cir. 1317.bGaps of 12 inches or more; 30-inch rows

    Note that these data are from Virginia.

    Table 13.4.  Yield response (% of maximum) of double-crop soybeans to deficit standsa.
    % Standlost to gapsb Remaining Plant Pop (1,000’s/A)
    100 140 180 220
    0 80 88 95 100
    20 71 79 86 91
    40 61 69 76 81
    60 48 57 64 69
    aSource: 2001-2004 experiments, Suffolk, VA.bGaps of 3 feet; 15-inch rows; MG 4 variety
  2. Estimate the yield from replanting.  After mid-June, decrease the expected yields an additional half of a bushel per acre per day delay in planting.  This is the yield to expect from delayed planting.
  3. Determine the gain or loss from replanting.  Subtract the expected yield of the poor stand (step 3) from the yield expected from delayed planting.  This is the gain or loss in bu/A from replanting.  Multiply this number by the expected price ($/bu), using future prices, to obtain gain or loss in $/A.
  4. Estimate the cost of replanting.  Include per acre cost of tillage, herbicide, fuel, seed, and labor.
  5. Determine profitability of replanting.  Subtract your cost of replanting from your estimated gain from replanting.