Category Archives: Commodity

Soybean Yield & Quality – My Predictions, Cautions,

I’ve been very hesitant to write this article and I’ve held off for several weeks, hoping to have more yield results in before saying anything. But I’ve seen enough so far in my observations of our variety tests as well as other fields that I think what I’m about to write is fairly accurate. My main concern all along was how much the Aug and September drought hurt us. Below is the rainfall anomalies in the U.S. It’s easy to see that we were way below average with the exception of southeast Virginia and parts of the Eastern Shore.

First, the maturity group 3 and early-4 soybean should be the cream of the crop this year. The yields that we are seeing is impressive and I’m hearing the same from others. These maturities appeared to avoid the drought for the most part. Plus the seed quality is very good (somewhat unusual for early-maturing varieties) due to the lack of September rain although we experienced another warmer-than-average September. This is us harvesting in Orange County last week – yields were in the 60’s and 70’s.

What about the later-maturing varieties that we grow the most of? A casual look at the soybean remaining in the field seem to indicate that we have a pretty good pod load in most cases, with late-planted soybean being the exception. Although the drought did hurt us, it’s somewhat hard to see now. Again, that’s from a casual observation. A closer look at the late-4’s reveal that the yield potential is still pretty good (see photos below; we did not harvest these due to a few varieties not yet being fully mature). Although we had a few aborted and small seed, most were intact. Keep in mind that this is a very good soil (Davidson clay) and the area did pick up a few rains that other parts of Virginia did not.

But what about our group 5 soybean? They don’t look nearly as good. Although pod abortion was not too bad, we had a good deal of flat pods and seed abortion within pods that were not completely flat where all seed were aborted. Don’t confuse the flat seed remaining in the pod with stink bug damage. Sting bug damage will usually result in discolored seed (there is one seed below that shows this); the small/flat seed due to drought-stress are usually not discolored. There was a pretty striking difference between the late-4’s and mid- to late-5’s; in general, the later maturity the more seed abortion.

Although I’m not seeing another concern, I think that it’s worth mentioning. A few years ago we observed drought-related green seed. These were not from late-maturing green stems or scattered plants. They were from the plant dying before the crop matured. This is only the case where we have extreme drought conditions and usually on a very low water-holding-capacity soil. But, I am seeing some dead leaves sticking to the stem, an indication of early plant death (see photo below) on some of our later-maturing varieties. While I hope this is not and issue this year, I did want to bring it to your attention. Too much green seed in a load will result in a reduced price for the crop.

Finally a note about green stems and branches. Anytime that we have a high amount of pod and/or seed abortion we can end up with some green stems. In some cases, we’ll even have green leaves on the plant although the seed are dry. This sometimes occur with high infestations of brown marmorated stink bug along the edge of a field or with certain viruses. But, drought can also cause this.

In addition to green stems, I’m getting reports of dry seed on the main stem (basically a mature plant), but the plant contains many green stems with immature seed. We have seen this in past years in low areas of the field where an overabundance of rainfall occurred early in the vegetative stages followed by a short intense drought (which I think stopped main stem growth) and by low light conditions. Once the drought was over, branch growth then took over. Branches are always behind the rest of the crop in maturity and the branches basically behave indeterminately (lower pods are more mature than upper pods), resulting in many immature seed at harvest. the last two pictures below are from late-May planted soybean in Mecklenburg County this year. At that location, about 10-12 inches of rain fell in the early vegetative stages and the soybean did not grow for the next 3-4 weeks, even with all this moisture. There was also lots of deer feeding. This was of course followed with the drought in Aug and September. While that situation was not exactly the same as the one I described previously, the problem is similar.

Regardless, one has to decide whether to harvest now and get the bulk of the crop before it shatters or wait until the rest of the seed to dry down. You definitely don’t want a lot of “butterbeans” in the load, but neither do you want lots of high-moisture seed that will affect overall moisture and storability. Shattering in today’s varieties are not as bad as in the past, so I’d wait a few days.

Corn earworm pest problems on hemp and results of recent insecticide tests

By: Tom Kuhar (Entomology Professor, Virginia Tech), Kadie Britt (Ph.D. student researching hemp IPM), and Helene Doughty (Entomologist, Eastern Shore AREC, Painter, VA)

Fig. 1. Corn earworm damaging CBD hemp in Virginia. Photo by Kadie Britt.

Corn earworm has become one of the most important pests of hemp, Cannabis sativa, in Virginia and many other states (Fig. 1).  Please see our factsheet on this insect as it relates to hemp: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/ENTO/ento-328/ENTO-328.pdf

Corn earworm can be quite damaging to the seed heads of hemp grown for grain (Fig. 2), but, as we’ve seen recently in Virginia, the pest can also damage hemp grown for CBD oil.  Over the past few weeks, corn earworm densities and damage to CBD hemp has reached very high levels throughout Virginia, and their presence in fields has been associated with increased flower bud rot (Fig. 3). This can result in significant economic damage to that crop. 

Due to strict regulations on pesticide use on hemp, insecticide recommendations for managing this pest are quite limited at this time.  Recently, we evaluated the efficacy of some naturally-derived pesticides that can be legally applied on hemp in Virginia and one naturally-derived (OMRI-certified) insecticide that currently is not allowed to be applied on hemp (Spinosad).    

Fig. 1. Corn earworm damage to grain hemp. Photo by Helene Doughty, Eastern Shore AREC.
Fig. 2. Bud rot on CBD hemp. Photo by Kadie Britt.

Eastern Shore Insecticide Field Trial:

Treatments included:

  1. Gemstar (5 fl oz/A) – which is a nuclear polyhedrosis virus that is specific to the corn earworm species.  The virus causes corn earworm to become sick and die.  Fig. 4. Shows a corn earworm killed by the virus. 
  2. Javelin WG (8 oz/A)Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain kurstaki – bacterial crystalline proteins that kill caterpillars.
  3. Dipel DF (16 oz/A) – Bt kurstaki different formulation
  4. BoteGHA (32 fl oz/A) Beauveria bassiana – entomopathogenic fungi
  5. Entrust (5 oz/A) – Spinosad derived from soil microbes. *cannot legally be applied on hemp in Virginia. 
Fig. 4. Corn earworm killed by virus (Gemstar insecticide). ESAREC 2019. Photo by Helene Doughty.

We evaluated their efficacy in the field on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in a randomized complete block small plot trial.  Hemp plots were sprayed twice (1 week apart) and numbers of live CEW larvae and damage was assessed.  Results are shown in Figs. 5 & 6.  Entrust was the only product that provided effective control of CEW.  Unfortunately, this is the one product that we evaluated that is not allowed to be applied on hemp.  The insecticide Entrust is OMRI-certified however.    

Fig. 5. Numbers of live corn earworm larvae on hemp plants after insecticide treatments at the ESAREC, Painter, VA.
Fig. 6 Corn earworm damage to hemp seeds in the field after insecticide treatments.

Virginia Tech bioassay trial:

Treatments included:

  1. Gemstar (5 fl oz/A) – which is a nuclear polyhedrosis virus that is specific to the corn earworm species.  The virus causes corn earworm to become sick and die.  Fig. 3. Shows a corn earworm killed by the virus. 
  2. Javelin WG (8 oz/A)Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain kurstaki – bacterial crystalline proteins that kill caterpillars.
  3. Dipel DF (16 oz/A) – Bt kurstaki different formulation
  4. Xentari (16 oz/A) – Bacillus thuringiensis , subsp. aizawai , Strain ABTS-1857
  5. BoteGHA (32 fl oz/A) Beauveria bassiana – entomopathogenic fungi
  6. Entrust (5 oz/A) – Spinosad derived from soil microbes. *cannot legally be applied on hemp in Virginia. 

In order to evaluate the efficacy, untreated hemp seed heads were collected from Kentland Farm and dipped in each of the treatments.  Approximately 1 oz of seeds was placed per diet cup and four reps of 10 cups each were set up for the aforementioned six insecticide treatments.  CEW larvae (3rd instar (medium sized) were collected from sweet corn planted at Kentland Farm and were immediately placed 1 larva per cup.  Mortality was evaluated 1, 2, 3, and 4 days after treatment (Fig. 7).  Similar to the Eastern shore field trial, Entrust provided the most effective control of CEW.  However, this trial also included the Bt aizawai product Xentari, which also provided significant control (better than the other products except spinosad.  Xentari is allowed for use on hemp in Virginia.  For best management of corn earworm during this time, apply Bt products on hemp every few (2-3) days in early morning or late evening. Corn earworm must consume the insecticide for the application to be effective, so ensure good spray coverage on plants. Dead worms may not be noticed until 48 hours after first application.

Fig. 7. Percentage mortality of corn earworm larvae placed on treated hemp seeds in a controlled laboratory experiment. DAT refers to days after treatment (insecticide dip).

EVAREC Soybean Field Day is This Tuesday

The Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center (EVAREC) Soybean Field Day is this Tuesday, Sept. 24. The field day begins at 8:45 am and tours will begin promptly at 9:00 am. There are a number of different topics to be discussed, all supported by the Virginia Soybean Checkoff. The 2019 full-season soybean variety test will also be available for viewing. Lunch will be served by Nixon’s Catering. We look forward to seeing you there.

The EVARE is located at 2229 Menokin Road, Warsaw, VA 22572. For more information, contact Dr. Joseph Oakes, EVAREC Superintendent at 804-333-3485.

Group 1 Field Tour Schedule

  • 8:45 – Welcome & Introductions; Load Trailers to ACR 2
  • 9:00-9:20 – Integrated Pest Management Approach for Soybean
  • Dr. Sally Taylor
  • 9:25-9:45 – Food Grade Soybean Breeding
    • Mr. Nick Lord
  • 9:45 – Load Trailers to Y1
  • 9:55-10:15 – The Best Maturity Group for Your Farm
    • Dr. David Holshouser
  • 10:15-10:30 – The Use of UAV in Crop Research and Production
    • Dr. Joseph Oakes
  • 10:35-10:55 – Roundup-Ready and Conventional Soybean Breeding
    • Dr. Bo Zhang
  • 11:00-11:20 – Weed Management in Soybean
    • Dr. Michael Flessner
  • 11:20 – Walk to Seed Lab

Program & Speakers in the Seed Lab

  • 11:40 – Begin Indoor Program
    • Dr. John Fike: VT Forage Extension Specialist – Hemp Production
    • Dr. Mike Evans: VT School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • 12:00 – Lunch is Served: Nixon’s Catering

Thank You to Our Field Day Sponsors!

Crabbe Aviation                       Ryan Ellis

Frazier Quarries                      UniSouth Genetics

James River Equipment            Virginia Crop Improv. Assoc.

Montague Farms

Virginia Soybean Yield Contest

Any grower (owner-operator, tenant, or tenant-landlord team) who is a member of the Virginia Soybean Association and produces 10 acres or more of soybeans within Virginia’s boundaries is eligible to enter this year’s 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.  The Virginia Soybean Association in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension sponsors this program. The Virginia Soybean Association in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension sponsors this program.

There are three Soybean Yield Contest categories: 1) Full-Season, Non-irrigated; 2) Double-Crop, Non-irrigated; and 3) Irrigated (Full-Season or Double-Crop).  A full-season system is defined as the grain or seed harvest of one summer crop (soybean in this case) from the same field in one year. Double-crop is defined as planting soybean immediately following grain or seed harvest of barley, wheat, or rapeseed; thus harvesting two crops from the same field in the same year.  If field has been irrigated one or more times, the entry will be considered an irrigated field and the will be placed into the irrigated contest.

Details can be found in the attached document below. Please consider entering the contest.

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 15, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. Most of the soybean in Virginia is past the beginning pod (R3) stage, and fungicide applications are more likely to be profitable when applied at or near R3/R4. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. Foliar fungicides are ineffective for control of most stem and root diseases. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkModerateScout
SoutheasternVirginia BeachHighSpray
Northern NeckWarsawHighSpray
CentralBlackstone ModerateScout
NorthernMiddleburgModerateScout
NorthernShenandoahModerateScout
NorthernWinchesterLowDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgHighSpray
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 8, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below.

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkModerateScout
SoutheasternVirginia BeachModerate to highScout
Northern NeckWarsawModerate to highScout
CentralBlackstone ModerateScout
NorthernMiddleburgModerate to highScout
NorthernShenandoahHighSpray
NorthernWinchesterLowDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgLowDon’t spray
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – August 3, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is variable across the state. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table can be downloaded from the Crop Protection Network website. Instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in the July 19 blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below.

Region of VirginiaLocation of weather stationSoybean disease riskRecommendation
Eastern ShorePainterHighSpray
SoutheasternSuffolkLow to moderateDon’t spray
SoutheasternVirginia BeachModerateScout
Northern NeckWarsawModerate to highScout
CentralBlackstone LowDon’t spray
NorthernMiddleburgModerate to highScout
NorthernShenandoahModerate to highScout
NorthernWinchesterLow to moderateDon’t spray
WesternCritzHighSpray
WesternBlacksburgModerateScout
WesternGlade SpringHighSpray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Soybean Fungicide Advisory – July 25, 2019

For soybean that is at or near the beginning pod (R3) stage, it is time to consider whether or not a fungicide application is needed to control foliar diseases and protect yield. The Virginia soybean fungicide advisory indicates that disease risk is moderate to high in most locations. Fields with moderate risk should be scouted since foliar diseases will not be an issue in every field every year.  Keep in mind that other risk factors also contribute to disease severity and yield loss to fungal diseases. High risk fields include those where susceptible soybean varieties are planted, there is a recent history of soybean foliar diseases, and/or rotations out of soybean are short or soybean is planted continuously over several years. If based on the soybean fungicide advisory or other factors you decide to apply a fungicide, applications are generally the most effective when applied between R3 and R4 stages (no later than R5). The most recent Soybean Fungicide Efficacy Table and instructions on how to use the Virginia soybean fungicide advisory can be found in last week’s blog post. A summary of disease risk and spray recommendations for different locations in Virginia can be found below.

Region of Virginia Location of weather station Soybean disease risk Recommendation
Eastern Shore Painter High Spray
Southeastern Suffolk Moderate Scout
Southeastern Virginia Beach Moderate Scout
Northern Neck Warsaw Moderate to high Scout
Central Blackstone Low to moderate Don’t spray
Northern Middleburg Moderate to high Scout
Northern Shenandoah High Spray
Northern Winchester Moderate Scout
Western Critz High Spray
Western Blacksburg High Spray
Western Glade Spring High Spray

For detailed daily advisories, select the location closest to your field and download the corresponding file here:

Glade_Spring_soyadv_25Jul2019

Middleburg_soyadv_25Jul2019

Painter_soyadv_25Jul2019

Shenandoah_soyadv_25Jul2019

Suffolk_soyadv_25Jul2019

VA_Beach_soyadv_25Jul2019

Warsaw_soyadv_25Jul2019

Winchester_soyadv_25Jul2019

Blacksburg_soyadv_25Jul2019

Blackstone_soyadv_25Jul2019

Critz_soyadv_25Jul2019

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Peanut Disease Update – July 25, 2019

As August approaches, now is the time to be scouting peanuts for leaf spot and soilborne diseases and making timely fungicide applications. Calendar-based or advisory-based spray programs can be followed, but be sure to make your fungicide applications before rainy weather makes it difficult to get into fields. Many of our leaf spot outbreaks over the past couple of years were due to extended periods of rainfall and delayed fungicide applications. Cooler, wet weather over the past several days has increased the risk for Sclerotinia blight. In our research plots at the Tidewater AREC, we found small amounts of late leaf spot, Sclerotinia blight, and southern stem rot this week. The leaf spot and Sclerotinia blight advisories, which  can be found on the Peanut Cotton Infonet website, indicate disease risk is currently high. For fungicide recommendations, contact your county extension agent or Dr. Hillary Mehl (hlmehl@vt.edu).

Plant bug / bollworm update for VA cotton

The much needed rain earlier this week also heralded the start of the moth flight in southeastern VA. Both eggs and adult moths are being picked up by scouting teams. So far, only a handful of fields are over recommended thresholds. I recommend scouting 2-gene cotton (Bollgard II, Widestrike, Twinlink) for eggs and applying Prevathon or Besiege when you find 25 or more per 100 terminals and/or leaves. If you planted 3-gene cotton, you are likely protected. We have measured very little benefit to spraying Widestrike 3, Bollgard III, and Twinlink Plus varieties for bollworm. In these varieties, finding 3 or more live second-stage larvae in one trip (or two worms in two consecutive trips, or one worm in three consecutive trips) triggers an application.

Other insecticides can control bollworm in cotton, but timing is critical. If you are using a pyrethroid, for example, target small worms. No product will clean up a problem field once worms are inside bolls.

Our team, lead by PhD student Seth Dorman, ANR Agent Josh Holland, and Dr. Sean Malone are scouting fields this week for lygus. Few problems fields were detected in southern counties today. However, fields were observed over recommended thresholds. At this point, many people have sprayed. Some may need to spray again and some may not. The only way to know is to scout.

Northern counties will be scouted this Friday and I will update the blog with our findings.

As always, you can reach out to me with your questions and concerns.