Tag Archives: soybean

New tool for Soybean Variety Trial Data

David Holshouser, Virginia Tech Extension Soybean Agronomist & Virginia Sykes, University of Tennessee Extension Variety Testing & Agroecology

Which soybean variety is best suited to my region? State variety testing programs provide critical research to help answer that question by evaluating hundreds of soybean varieties every year across multiple locations within a state. But what if we think beyond the bounds of our state borders when it comes to variety evaluation?

While a single state alone provides valuable data, our growing regions often cross state lines. A location in southeastern Virginia may share more similarities to sites in eastern North Carolina than it does to the Northern Piedmont of Virginia. Furthermore, by combining variety testing data across multiple states, we can create a more robust dataset that allows us to better predict which varieties are best suited to specific regions and growing conditions.

Pulling and combining data from select locations within multiple state variety testing programs can be a daunting task. Over the past year, a team of variety testing coordinators from Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia have been working to make that process a lot easier. Through funding from the United Soybean Board and in collaboration with Centrec Consulting Group, LLC, we created a tool that will allow users of variety test data to combine and visualize soybean variety testing data across multiple states in the Mid-South. This new tool is available at https://marketviewdb.centrec.com/?bi=MidSouthVarietyTrials.

In addition to choosing locations, another key component of this database is the ability to filter the results to include only the relative maturities, brands, and herbicide tolerances that you want. It can also let you chose whether to include irrigated and/or non-irrigated, or full-season and/or double-crop sites.  You can also chose the soil textures that you are interested in.

I won’t go into the details of how to use the site in this blog.  But, try it out.  Contact me with questions or comments.

The database currently contains 2018 – 2020 data but will be updated as 2021 soybean variety trial data becomes available. We hope that you find this tool useful. We would value your feedback/suggestions as we continue to refine this product to better meet stakeholder needs. A brief survey can be found at https://utk.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6u5lHEwEOXnXODA.

The database described in this article was developed with support from the United Soybean Board.

Introducing the New & Improved Soybean Yield Contest

In an effort to better recognize Virginia’s soybean producers, Virginia Soybean Association is completely revamping the 2021 Soybean Yield Contest! Through a combination of checkoff dollars and sponsorship support, we’re happy to announce the  a new and improved soybean yield contest.

There will be two categories: full-season and double-crop. There is no restrictions on irrigation (irrigated fields are accepted). Most of all the awards for the top 3 winners in each category has increased substantially due to our sponsors (see below).

1st Place – $2,500

2nd Place – $1,000

3rd Place – $500

This has already garnered a lot of interest. We look forward to receiving your entries.

For more information and entry forms, visit the Virginia Soybean Association website or contact me.

Do I plant soybean or wait for rain?

Until these big high-pressure systems sitting in the eastern part of the country move east, it looks as if we are in for another week or so of dry weather. This is not good for soybean planting, any way you look at it.  So, what should we do?

There are basically three options:

Plant shallow in dry soil and hope for enough rain to get the seed out of the ground. If you decide to take this approach, you want to ensure you achieve uniform seed depth and that you are not allowing the seed access to moisture below the seed that could lead to variable emergence. This approach would be less risky in clean-tilled situation where you are more confident that you have dried the soil out at shallow depths. Soybean seed will sit in the ground for several weeks and still emerge well when rainfall occurs. Some worry about “cooking” the seed during this period.  Although it is true that the seed will continue to respire and its ability to germinate will decline, the bigger risk is that you catch a small rain that allows the soybean seed to imbibe water but not enough to get it out of the ground.

Caution must be exercised in no-till systems.  With no-till the soil has not been uniformly dried out with tillage; therefore, there is non-uniform moisture distribution across the field.  This leads to uneven access to moisture and ultimately emergence variability. Parts of the field will have adequate moisture to get the soybeans out of the ground, other parts will be completely dry as in tilled conditions, and much of the field will be in between.  Those in-between areas are likely to have enough moisture to swell the seed and/or initiate germination but not have enough moisture to allow the seedling to emerge.  This is my least favorite option.

Plant deep to the moisture. Under most conditions, soybeans may be planted 0.75 to 1.5 inches deep. But I don’t usually like to go much over 1 inch deep, especially in May.  I want soybean to come out of the ground as fast as possible. With that said, we planted some at 1.5 inches last week. Soil temperatures are generally high enough right now for the seed to germinate and plants emerge relatively quickly. Soybeans should not be planted deeper than 2 inches. Many are not finding soil moisture at less than 2 inches. Even if there is moisture 1.5 inches down, exercise caution using this approach, especially your soils are prone to crusting, because a heavy rainfall could seal the soil before the soybeans emerge. In tilled conditions, the planter can push the soil down a little, creating a ridge of fluffy soil on each side.  A heavy rain will cause this soil to move into that furrow and possibly add another ½ to 1 inches of soil to your depth.  If you are going to go this route, check the emergence score on the variety.

Keep the seed in the bag until the next time we catch rain. This is the safest approach and the one that I am leaning to now. Based on historical data, we have another couple of weeks before we start seeing yield declines from delayed planting. Data from recent research throughout the Mid-Atlantic shows that each day delay in planting past mid-June can result in a ½ bu/A or more yield loss and in general these yield declines begin in the second or third week of June. We still have some time before we get to that point. The optimum planting date range for soybeans is late-April through mid-June, although it will vary from year-to-year and field-to-field based on rainfall, soil water holding capacity, and soybean maturity, but the goal is to get the soybean plants to lap the middles before reproductive growth begins. We still have still have time to do this in most cases. 

Waiting to plant is more of a concern for those who still have early-maturing varieties to plant (MG 3 and early-4), as these varieties will have less time for vegetative growth. I do suggest planting your earliest maturity groups first, whichever strategy you choose to employ.  Later maturity groups have more time for adequate growth when planting is delayed.

What about fungicide seed treatments? You have likely already decided on this and cannot change.  But fungicidal seed treatments are less likely needed in this situation where soils are warm. It looks as if temperatures will be warming all week, so I don’t see cold soils as a problem.

Whatever decision a grower makes, uniform seed placement in critical to achieve uniform emergence and ensure each seed has as equal of access to water as possible. I don’t get too concerned if some plants emerge just a few days apart, but we don’t need them emerging a week apart. Dr. Rachel Vann of N.C. State discussed the importance of uneven and delayed emergence in soybeans – How Important Is Uniform Emergence in Soybeans?  Still, keep in mind that although earlier emerging plants will usually yield more, the late emerging plant will still contribute to yield.  Due to soybean’s compensatory ability, the yield on the whole will differ little from only a few days difference in soybean emergence within the row.  If you know me, you know that I’m not a fan of planting with drills due to lack of equal spacing within the row.  This lack of even spacing will become increasingly important if plant emergence is not good. 

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages to each planting option discussed, but we still have time to plant soybeans in our region before we see drastic yield declines. All options discussed will likely result in delayed emergence due to environmental conditions.

Fire ants in crop fields and near homes – southeast VA

Fire ant mound around brace roots of corn plant, Suffolk, VA.

We have high numbers of fire ant mounds in our crop fields and around our farms this year. There have been some unfortunate encounters and this message is to make you aware of what these mounds look like and the potential for injury. Mounds look like large piles of loose dirt (keep in mind they have to start small at some point). They are often found around fence posts and mailboxes, but many are located in fields, pastures, and lawns. Field borders and paths are frequently infested. Fire ants sting, just like wasps and bees, and some people will be allergic and require medical interventions. People that are not allergic will have itchy, painful welts that often fill with fluid and may take days or a week or more to heal. Usually, you will have dozens or even hundreds of stings. This is because the swarm very fast and wait to sting all at once. Keep in mind that I have lived around them most of my adult life in North Carolina and we have come to accept them as part of our environment and have learned caution and awareness. I have been stung multiple times, usually once every few years, and usually when I am scouting crops. Be aware of where your feet are standing. Walk quickly when crossing a field because you can disturb them and get away without injury. Treatment options are below for mounds located near homes and barns. You do not want children or young animals near these things.

Fire ant mound around edge of soybean field, Suffolk, VA.

I would not attempt to clear your crop fields. A single acre can contain hundreds of mounds and millions of fire ants. Fire ants are predators and will eat caterpillars and other insect pests. They will not eat seeds and plants. Large mounds can damage equipment in rare cases. Products exist that can be applied to turf and lawns with year-long residuals (e.g., TopChoice). These products require a pesticide applicator license to purchase. Baits (e.g., Advion) are an alternative if you are not licensed to apply insecticides. These can be purchased online, many local retailers do not carry them yet. Surface treatments do not work because the colony can live very deep underground. Do not attempt to treat once the weather turns cold because it will not work. Wait until spring. Pray for a cold winter.

Be safe y’all and stay healthy. As always, reach out to me if you have questions or concerns. Keep in mind that I am NOT an urban or ornamental entomologist and I am NOT trying to sell you any specific product. FOLLOW THE LABEL WITH ANY INSECTICIDE.

Estimating Soybean Yields

Although it’s hard to accurately estimate soybean yields until maturity, doing so can give you an idea of your crops potential this year or differences between fields or soil  types.  Maybe you’re considering entering the soybean yield contest or maybe you just want some peace of mind.

Here are some general guidelines for estimating soybean yield.  Again, estimating soybean yield is inaccurate unless detailed sampling is done late in the growing season.  Estimates are usually not very good until the soybean approaches physiological maturity (R7).  Only about 50% of the total seed dry matter has accumulated by the R6 development stage.  Stresses during the R6 to R6.5 stages can result in large yield losses mostly by reduced seed size, but also by reduced pods or beans per pod.  After R6.5, stresses will cause a much smaller loss. 

To estimate yields, follow the steps below.  Be sure to sample in 5 to 7 different areas of the field.

1. Determine the number of row feet needed to make 1/1000th of an acre from the table below.  In narrow rows, one may use 3 or 4 side-by-side rows instead of one long row

2. Determine the plant population per acre.  Count the number of plants for the row feet determined above in 5 to 10 randomly chosen area of the field.  Multiply this number by 1000.  Average the number of sampling areas.  Note that the more areas of the field that you sample, the more accurate are your estimates.

3. Determine the number of pods per plant.  As you are making your stand counts, pull up 5 consecutive plants in the row you counting.  These 5 plants should be growing next to each other.  This will insure that you don’t just pull the best looking plants in the row.  Also, try to avoid gaps in the row as the plant next to the gap will have more pods than the average plant. Count the number of pods on these plants within the sample area and average.

4. Determine the pods per acre.  Multiply the plant population (step 2) by the pod average (step 3).

5. Determine the number of seeds per acre.  Multiply the number of pods (step 4) by 2.5 seed per pod.  This is an average number of seed per pod for most varieties.  Some varieties may have more, some less.

6. Determine pounds of seed per acre.  Divide the seeds per acre (step 5) by 3000 seeds per pound.  This number can vary from 2500 to 3500.  Higher numbers represent smaller seed that are more likely during late-season drought.  Smaller numbers represent seed that form with abundant August/September rainfall.  You may want to obtain a low, medium, and high estimate.

7. Determine the yield estimate.  Divide the pounds per acre (step 6) by 60 pounds per bushel.

As an alternative to calculating your numbers, you can use the chart below to determine how many pods or seed per pod you would need at three different plant populations to obtain a certain yield.

2020 Virginia Soybean Yield Contest

Each year, the Virginia Soybean Association in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension sponsors a 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.

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). 

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.  Participants may enter one, two, or all contests. 

Details of the contest can be found at the Soybean Extension & Research webpage. Please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office if you wish to enter the contest, preferably at least 5 days before harvest. 

Virginia Tech Eastern Shore AREC Virtual Field Day

Please find the 2020 Virginia Tech Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center Virtual Field Day available via YouTube. Pre-recorded sessions can be viewed in one playlist or you can pick and choose individual topics using the hyperlinks in the attached program.

Playlist link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLldHHn24T22mXiFp8Hq9hEn-YPb4gMTM0

The program with clickable links is found by clicking: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/spes/spes-239/SPES-239.pdf

As always, contact us with questions vis email, YouTube comments, or Facebook. Please let us know of any further research or Extension questions that you may have. We hope to see everyone again at our Painter, VA location in person in Summer 2021!

Stay healthy and take care!

Virginia Tech Eastern Shore AREC research plots. Photos by At Altitude Gallery, Cape Charles, VA ( https://ataltitudegallery.com/ ).

Planting Tips for Profitable Double-Crop Soybean

   Before I get into tips for soybean, I must emphasize one must focus on the entire double-crop wheat-soybean system.  Both crops must contribute to profit; one crop cannot carry the other.  You will may save some input costs such as lime, fertilizer, and rent (making those seasonal cost spread over two crops) with the double-crop system, but certain costs such as soybean seeding rate will increase.  In the end, these inputs roughly equal out with the exception of land rent that can vary greatly over Virginia.

   With that said, the most important thing to insure a profitable double-crop system is yield, yield of both crops.  Without a minimum of 80+ bushel/acre wheat and 33-35+ bushel soybean, the system will not likely be as profitable as the full-season soybean system, especially with today’s low prices. 

Assuming that you will intensely manage both crops during the growing season (note that intensely managing does necessarily not equate to greater input costs, but instead greater attention), the most important thing that anyone can do right now for greater yields is to harvest the wheat crop as soon as possible, and then immediately plant the soybean.  Our 3-year, 5-state (PA, MD, DE, VA, NC) project conducted just a few years ago clearly confirmed that this is one of, if not the most important decision that a double-crop farmer can make.  In that project, we generally showed a rapid decrease in both wheat and soybean yield with delayed harvest and planting after mid-June.  Wheat yield declined anywhere from 0.5% to 2.5% per day, depending on location and year, versus wheat that was harvested at 18-20% moisture.  This was largely due to rapidly declining test weights afterwards.  And we also noted that quality decreased in many test locations. Note that if wheat is harvested this wet, then it will need to be dried almost immediately.  I don’t recommend this unless you have a continuous-flow drier or have a buyer willing to take the high-moisture wheat without severe price dockage. 

Although we found a benefit to the wheat crop, probably the bigger benefit however to harvesting wheat at high moisture is earlier planting of the soybean.  On average the soybean yield began to decrease about ½ bushel/acre per day by mid-June, but this increased to 1-2 bushels per day once we got into late-June (more northerly Mid-Atlantic states) and early-July (more southerly Mid-Atlantic states).   This resulted in a major income difference. 

Just to re-emphasize this most important point, harvesting the wheat and planting the soybean ASAP is the most important thing a farmer can do to make this system as or more profitable than a full-season soybean system.  The current weather is not helping with this (we could have harvested much of our wheat this week), but hopefully next week will bring drier weather.

Here are some other tips that are very important when planting double-crop soybean.

Variety Selection. Select the latest maturing varieties that will mature before the frost.  This will assist with growing as much leaf area and having as many reproductive nodes as possible.  Plant the earlier maturing varieties in this maturity range on your best soils and the later relative maturities on the poorer-yielding land.

Always Plant in Narrow Rows.  I prefer 15 to 20 inch rows seeded with a planter that singulates the seed.  Seed singulation insures uniform seed placement within the row and no big gaps between plants.  The other option is to plant with a drill, which achieves the narrow rows but results in what many refer to today as a “controlled spill”.  This results in many gaps, 2 or 3 seed planted in the same place, and generally lower yields (we proved this in some on-farm double-crop studies in the early 2000s).  Still, a drill is better than 30-inch (or wider) rows at such a late planting date.

Seeding Rate. Beginning next week in Virginia, plant 140,000 to 160,000 seed/acre and increase that rate by 20,000 seed/acre with each successive week.  This will of course put the seeding rate up to 200,000 to 220,00 plants by the first full week of July, sharply decreasing your profit with greater seed costs and lower yields.  Again, this is to insure maximum leaf area and node development.  Note that as one moves north and west, greater seeding rates may be needed due to the shorter growing season (e.g., northwest Virginia may require a greater seeding rate than southeast Virginia, or North Carolina). If using a drill, I suggest increasing these rates by 10%.

Insure Good Soil-to-Seed Contact. First, adequately spread the wheat residue.  No planter will uniformly plant through inches of matted residue. Then make sure the planter is properly set to 1) cut the residue, 2) penetrate the soil to the proper seeding depth, and 3) ensure good soil-to-seed contact.  These steps must take place in order. And they affect each other; a mistake in accomplishing one of the steps can result in mistakes in the other two.  I suggest waiting until late morning to begin planting to insure that the small grain residue to dry – unless the residue is dry, cutting through it will be a problem, resulting in hair-pinning of the residue and prohibiting proper soil-to-seed contact. 

Plant into soil moisture.  If there is plenty of moisture, you can plant as shallow as ¾ inch and get good and rapid emergence.  If a little dry on top, you can plant as deep as 1.5 inches.  With warm soil temperatures, soybean will generally emerge well from this depth and may even emerge from even deeper depths (but I don’t recommend).  Unless you farm in wet, poorly drained soils or are growing continuous soybean, I don’t usually recommend a fungicide seed treatment during June and July due to warm soils.  Double-crop soybean usually emerge quickly if planted into soil moisture and will “out-grow” any seedling disease.

Insure Nitrogen Fixation. If soybean have not been grown in a field for the past 3 years, then be sure to apply inoculate to the seed with the proper bacteria.  This will insure adequate nitrogen fixation by the soybean plant. There is no need to apply nitrogen; definitely don’t apply more than 25-30 pounds/acre or you will inhibit this vital biological process. As a side note, we did find a fairly consistent 1 bushel yield increase with starter N at 25 lbs/acre due to slightly better early-season growth; but this did not pay for the cost of the N – so I don’t recommend.

Fertility (P, K, S, etc.).  Keep in mind that the straw contains quite a bit of nutrients.  If the straw is harvested, make sure that you are replacing those nutrients that are leaving the field.  For more information, see our VCE publication,  The Nutrient Value of Straw.  And make sure that you are being paid more for the straw than these nutrients and organic matter is worth!

Enlist Soybean Varieties for Double-Crop Production Systems

Although it appears that we can use existing stock of labeled dicamba products (XtendiMax with Vaporgrip Technology, FeXapan, and Engenia) for Xtend soybean varieties, some may want to switch to or use Enlist varieties to control resistant or hard-to-kill weeds in their double-crop system.

Therefore, I’m listing this past year’s results of the performance of Enlist varieties from our variety tests. Note that most of maturity group (MG) 4 varieties. I tested no late-5 or 6 varieties.

Again, the varieties that you have already selected are likely the best-performing ones for your fields; therefore, I do not recommend changing unless you need the Enlist system to control weeds in certain fields.

Note that relative yield is the yield relative to all varieties tested within a relative maturity group (e.g., early-4, late-4, early-5, etc.). Relative yield of 105 means that the variety yielded 5% greater than the average of the entire test.

Xtendimax, Engenia, and FeXapan Registrations Vacated. What now?

The dicamba products Xtendimax, Engenia, and FeXapan had their registrations vacated June 3, 2020 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The EPA announced June 8, 2020 a final cancellation order for these products.

Existing stocks, in possession on June 3, 2020 (the date of the court’s decision), can be used by farmers and commercial applicators by July 31. Use of these products must be consistent with the previously approved label.

The EPA’s full statement is here:  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-06/documents/final_cancellation_order_for_three_dicamba_products.pdf. Details on use of existing stocks are on page 11.

More background information can be found here

Tavium (dicamba + S-metolachlor) is also still legal to use. Tavium was not mentioned in the lawsuit making Tavium the only way to legally apply dicamba to Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or Xtendflex cotton. This product is already in short supply and may be difficult to acquire. Tavium cannot be used on double crop soybean.

There are effective alternatives to dicamba. In RR2 Xtend soybean, I recommend Flexstar GT in place of dicamba. This product is not currently in short supply, but there is potential for that to occur. So I encourage farmers that plan to use Flexstar GT to go ahead and acquire it. Other alternative products can be found in Table 5.54 on page 5-182 of the Pest Management Guide. Additionally, information on controlling Palmer amaranth in soybean is here: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/2808/2808-1006/2808-1006.html and common ragweed is here: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/spes/spes-143/SPES-143.pdf. In cotton, most varieties have the option of using Liberty, which is my recommendation in place of dicamba. But other alternative products can be found in Tables 5.112 and 5.113, starting on page 5-344.

Farmers should consider changing soybean herbicide traits for double crop acres or any soybean ground that has not yet been planted. LibertyLink, LLGT27, and Enlist are all good options in place of RR2 Xtend. Farmers may also consider a Roundup Ready variety as well, to potentially save tech fees compared to RR2 Xtend, but there are very few of these even before this announcement. I realize changing this late in the year may not be feasible and the best performing varieties may not be available. If farmers choose to change varieties, make sure that the variety has both strong yield potential and the herbicide trait of choice.

This ruling does not apply to dicamba products such as Clarity and Banvel, that are not labeled for use in Xtend traited crops, so these can continue to be used in pastures, corn, and other labeled uses. Dicamba products that are not labeled for use in dicamba-tolerant crops have been and continue to be illegal to use over-the-top of RR2 Xtend soybean and Xtendflex cotton.

This ruling comes at the absolute worst time during the season. There may be temptation to use dicamba illegally, but I strongly encourage us all to think about the implications of such actions on agriculture. These products have been and will continue to be under scrutiny from the non-ag public.