November 30, 2022

Illinois soybeans struggle with moisture, planting challenges

LONDON MILLS, Ill. — In a year when expectations, demand and price for soybeans are all high, the Illinois soybean crop may not meet those great expectations everywhere.

“Almost everybody has something that is going to put a cap on their soybean yield potential,” said Lance Tarochione, DEKALB Asgrow technical agronomist for western and west-central Illinois.

Moisture is the major factor that has put the brakes on the soybean crop, from too little moisture at crucial times in some areas to too much in other areas.

“The weather conditions in some areas have been pretty good for filling pods. In dry areas, I would say conditions have been marginal, at best, for filling pods. It’s been cool, which is good. But it’s been drier than we would like. It’s hard to raise really good soybeans with a second half of July and August that’s dry,” Tarochione said.

With the adage that “soybeans don’t like wet feet” in mind, he said parts of the state that received consecutive heavy rainfall may be seeing the development of soybean diseases like sudden death syndrome.

“As you go south, there’s sudden death. Soybeans don’t like wet feet and we’ve got certain parts of the state where it’s been too wet, at least at certain times of the growing season. I would say, in general, the soybean crop is not as healthy as it was last year. It’s easier to find SDS, it’s easier to find brown stem rot, it’s easier to find white mold,” Tarochione said.

Another issue that could plague some growers at harvest time is extra tall growth on some plants.

“You get into areas where rainfall was plentiful early in the growing season and soybeans got really big and tall and rank and that creates a good environment for white mold down in the canopy,” Tarochione said.

Lodging will be a primary concern with those tall plants.

“The No. 1 factor that usually creates is lodging and it’s easier to harvest soybeans that are standing good. If they aren’t lodged too severely, a little bit of a lean doesn’t hurt anything, but if they get lodged badly enough, occasionally, farmers will have to cut them going one direction to get them all, which is a huge pain,” Tarochione said.

This year’s soybean crop in Illinois got off to a rough start, with many soybeans getting planted later than producers hoped. Tarochione said stands were thin, and the crop was struggling with herbicide injury and cold, wet soils. Slow growth continued into the early part of the summer.

That late start means that those soybeans have some work to do before combines roll.

“A lot of soybeans didn’t get planted until May, so not everybody is looking at April-planted soybeans and these May-planted soybeans have a lot of pod filling left to do. But soybeans will continue to benefit from rainfall until probably the middle of September, so we have another few weeks that we could still get soybean-benefiting rainfall,” Tarochione said.

He reported that spraying Asgrow XtendFlex soybeans using XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology has worked well, offering cleaner fields for the growers who choose to use it.

“Obviously, dicamba has more than its share of label restrictions, which is why the ability to use glufosinate on XtendFlex soybeans is so valuable. It is the best weed control system and growers who are able to use XtendiMax in their program generally will have cleaner fields,” he said.

Tarochione reminds farmers that weeds need to be sprayed before they are four inches tall for effective control.

“You can’t spray 18-inch tall weeds and expect to kill them 100% of the time, regardless of the system you are using. We need to be targeting smaller weeds because none of the products are excellent at killing big weeds, especially if it’s a big, tough weed like waterhemp,” he said.

This column was contributed by Illinois AgriNews for Asgrow.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor