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Complete Nutrient Focus a Big Key to Large Soybean Crops

Complete Nutrient Focus a Big Key to Large Soybean Crops

The trend for soybeans in recent years is to plant earlier and earlier. However, the cool, wet spring of 2022 meant soybeans went in much later than many farmers planned. Bret Leahr is an AgriGold agronomist in Illinois. He says despite the planting challenges, soybeans look good across much of the countryside.

“This year we had a couple pockets here and there and what Central Illinois where we had some really early-planted beans, and then we’ve got some rain, so then we have a lot of later-planted beans, as well. So, I think the trend is to plant early and earlier. But this year, we just had a lot of later-planted beans, and they look really good. We caught some late September rains to push those beans through a little bit. So, I think we’re starting to see some beans and that’s and then we’re starting to see some fill out later now. So, I think, overall, the soybean crop looks really fantastic west-central Illinois.”

Farmers focus on potassium levels for soybeans, but Leahr says if you’re looking to build yield, pay attention to the other nutrients too.

“Oftentimes, we think about potassium being the number one factor for soybeans. It has a big role in soybean crop, but I think we need to think about phosphorus as well. So, when we put on fall fertilizer, we just tend to think about potassium to put on soybeans, but I think with phosphorus, we can build those levels up a little bit. I think it’ll push our yields a little bit higher than we’re expecting. Also,  we need to think about sulfur. Soybeans use more pounds per bushel than corn does. So, if we put some APs in front of soybeans with a weed and feed option, I think we can see our soybean start to really turn the corner on yields and really crank out some higher-yielding soybeans.”

He says you can’t talk about soybeans without discussing disease and weed pressure.

“I think we’re doing a really nice job of spraying foliar fungicides on our soybean crop. The one thing we’re all seeing right now in west central Illinois is Sudden Death Syndrome. So, I think if we take a proactive approach and apply a SDS protection on our soybean seed treatments, like Alivo or Soltero, I think that’s going to help our sudden death issues. We’re starting to see earlier-maturity soybean get sudden death right now, but the later ones aren’t seeming to get it right now, at least. So, I think we take a proactive approach in our seed treatment, we’ll see less and less of that. But from a fungicide standpoint, we’re not really seeing too many diseases on the leaves like Frogeye and those types of diseases, so I think we’re doing a really nice job on our fungicide approach. And from the weed standpoint, this year, the weeds are really clean in a lot of soybean fields. So, the late August rains kind of some waterhemp through the canopy, but we’ll see that year-over-year with late length in August.”

As the soybean crop nears the finish line, Leahr says some structure differences are evident between varieties, but the verdict is still out as to which will yield better.

“This is super exciting to me because we’ve seen the Enlist soybean not have the top-end yield like we wanted to in the past, but I think the gap is starting to close. And the structure differences are really neat to me because the Enlist beans seem to be a bushier bean, and it puts more pods on the outside branching while the XtendFlex soybean seems to love more pods on the main stem, at least in our lineup. So, I think the differences are really neat looking at the two side-by-side. I think the decision since the yield gap is closing is just going to be what is your flavor of choice between the two soybeans and how you think you can kill weeds more effectively choosing the trait platforms.”

For help choosing varieties or any other steps along the path to producing a big bean crop, reach out to your local AgriGold agronomist.