Early-planted soybean trials show extra profitability

Mark Barnes, Syngenta seedcare specialist manager, gave details of the new Saltro fungicide seed treatment at the Golden Harvest Field Day at the Precision Technology Institute in Pontiac, Illinois. Agronomists Stephanie Smith (right) and Stephanie Porter spoke of the benefits of planting soybeans early.

PONTIAC, Ill. — Early-planted soybeans were a rarity this year due to the heavy and frequent rains, but the benefits are evident when Mother Nature allows it.

The benefits of early-planted soybeans and a newly-launched seed treatment were among the topics at the recent Golden Harvest Field Day at the Precision Technology Institute.

Agronomist Jason Webster, PTI director, has been conducting field trials of early-planted soybean for many years. His earliest planted this year was April 27 at the PTI site due to weather delays, but he did provide data from trials conducted in previous years.

He planted soybeans at PTI on March 22 a year ago, just days before a 10-inch snow was forecast for central Livingston County. The final tally reached 13 inches of snow covering the newly-planted soybeans.

“I just wanted to see what happens when I plant soybeans right before a 10-inch snow. I planted in 20-inch rows and bumped the population up to 150,000. Those were my best soybeans in not only the planting date study but on the whole PTI farm — 83.8 bushels per acre,” Webster said.

“We did lose about 20% of stand. That’s why I bumped up m population to 150,000. I would normally not plant that high. But we are seeing the trend. We do recommend that while you’re planting corn you probably ought to be planting soybeans and I would even take it a step further and say if we’re cold early in the spring, just plant soybeans and park the corn planter.”

He also compared the March 22 soybeans to those planted when soybeans are typically planted the first week of May. Those later soybeans yielded 62.8 bushels per acre or $184 per acre less revenue than the soybeans planted March 22.

“I lost yield at every single planting date after March 22. There’s extra profitability on the farm by planting earlier,” Webster said.

Soybeans were planted in PTI plots from April 27 to June 20 this year and flowering on the latest soybeans started in early August.

Webster said they’ve tried rolling soybeans, and used products like Cobra to stun them and get them to node close together. “But our best luck in getting more nodes on a plant is to plant earlier. So, typically our early-planted beans will have over 20 nodes and our later planting dates will have 16, 17, 18,” Webster noted.

Burning Sugar

Stephanie Smith, Golden Harvest agronomist, said later-planted soybeans grow taller, “competing with their neighbors,” and giving up yield potential as the plant uses more sugars to grow rather than build yield. Yields go up as the plant’s photosynthetic capabilities increase.

“We are planting earlier because these plants won’t get as tall. They’ll use that energy to branch and when we branch we put on more nodes, we put on more pods, and you harvest more in the grain cart. That’s a good day,” Smith said.

Early-planted soybean trials show extra profitability

Agronomist Jason Webster, Precision Technology Institute director, holds up some late-planted soybeans from the PTI plots during the recent Golden Harvest Field Day. While the weather didn’t allow Webster to plant soybeans at the site this year until April 27, past trials have shown the benefits of early planting.

Early planting also helps weed control with canopy closure by the summer solstice detering weed emergence.

“A soybean plant can have 600 flowers. We’re happy to see 50 or 60 pods on a plant. The idea is if there are 600 possible, what one or two little things can we tweak in the system to retain more of those flowers,” Smith noted.

“That’s not a good outcome for those soybean flowers when it’s hot and dry during the flowering process. We know that they get stresses, they drop the flower and it doesn’t pollinate. If we plant early we do mitigate some of those in-season stresses moisture deficits and heat to be able to retain more of those pods.”

Smith planted soybeans on March 26 in northeastern Indiana.

“Seed treatments allowed us to do is that seed remained in the ground for a month. It did not emerge for a month and we got a very, very good stand,” she said.

New Seed Treatment

Final regulatory approval for Syngenta’s Saltro fungicide seed treatment is expected soon, and Mark Barnes, Syngenta seedcare specialist manager, gave a rundown on the new product during the field day.

“Saltro will bring unsurpassed sudden death syndrome protection to the market. It also has superior crop safety and has improved handling characteristics and is easier to work with,” Barnes said.

“In trials with high-pressure SDS disease situations, Adepidyn, Saltro’s active ingredient, has delivered a three-bushel per acre or more soybean yield advantage, compared with ILeVO. Even in trials with low-disease-pressure situations, we still see a 1.8-bushel yield advantage. Adepidyn protects against SDS without causing additional early-season plant stresses, like phytotoxicity and stunting.”

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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