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Early-maturing soybeans may answer late-planting questions

Agriculture.com Staff 06/23/2008 @ 11:48am

In a mad dash to get some soybeans planted now before time runs out on you? You're not alone. In some areas, soils that have hardly seen dry conditions all spring are drying out, allowing for weeks-behind planting activity. But being so late in the season, one specialist advises to be mindful of both how and what you're planting.

A lot of how you should approach your planting and early fieldwork depends on whether your bean fields have been ponds or just mudholes in recent weeks, according to Iowa State University (ISU) Extension soybean production specialist and agronomist Palle Pedersen. Things like plant populations and disease control hinge on what field conditions have preceded you in firing up the planter.

"Consider the yield potential of late-planted soybeans, along with costs associated with late planting. Final stands of at least 73,000 uniformly distributed plants per acre will consistently yield more than 90% of optimum plant population," Pedersen says. "If you are replanting an area that has been flooded, it is highly recommend to use a fungicide seed treatment and Bradyrhizobium inoculants. The level of seedling diseases probably will be high with our current conditions and the level of Bradyrhizobium in the soil could have been reduced, particularly in fields that were flooded for an extended period of time."

Under ideal conditions from this point forward, what kind of yields can you expect given late planting and conditions that aren't quite perfect? Pedersen says research after the floods of 1993 indicates yields for beans planted now and later will take a hit. How much?

"The yield potential from planting in mid-June was approximately 60% of the optimum yield in northern and central Iowa and 80% of the optimum yield in southern Iowa," Pedersen says, citing the research by former ISU agronomist Keith Whigham. "When planting was delayed until early July, soybean yield potential dropped even further and producers would have approximately 33% of the maximum yield in northern Iowa and 50% in central and southern Iowa available."

From this point on, Pedersen recommends planting earlier-maturing varieties, shortening the maturity group to 0.5 to 1.0, starting now in central and northern parts of the Corn Belt and waiting up to 10 days in the southern parts of the area. Doing so will help late-planted fields catch up to normal maturation times.

"Planting a full-season variety in Iowa in late June or early July will, on average, delay physiological maturity of the soybean crop to mid October," Pedersen says. "Soybean yield potential and seed quality may be negatively affected if frost damages the soybean crop before the plants reaches physiological maturity (R7)."

In a mad dash to get some soybeans planted now before time runs out on you? You're not alone. In some areas, soils that have hardly seen dry conditions all spring are drying out, allowing for weeks-behind planting activity. But being so late in the season, one specialist advises to be mindful of both how and what you're planting.

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