Keys to More Beans

Reachout – Keys to More Beans March 13, 2017 from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

It’s true. I spend most of my time writing about corn. But while the agronomics between the two crops are quite different, the central question is always the same: how do we grow more?

Those of you in attendance at the grower meetings these past three weeks have gotten an earful about this from the experts in the matter. We’ve had a small parade of people in to share their thoughts and knowledge, including many places from across the corn and soybean belt and more than one high yield champion.

Typically, all these speakers from all over the country present seemly colossal and exciting ideas and those ideas leave questions, and those questions do have answers. The fact is, however, that while these experts and champions can seem a little larger than life, what they talk about is not. Much of what I’ve heard in the past three weeks hasn’t been new ideas but rather, tried and true agronomics.

Three things are sticking in my mind tonight—things mentioned by one of our recent experts or champions to increase soybean yield numbers—that you might consider this season. And not because an expert mentioned them, but because they’ve worked before for other CVA growers like your neighbors and friends.

Using an in-furrow product to get your soybeans off to a good start.

Planting dates are creeping ever earlier and earlier. Which means that the conditions which we plunge our seeds into are becoming ever more challenging. Which means that our seeds can use all the help we can give them.

Enter in-furrow fertilizers to provide the necessary boost to feed roots and get plants off to a good start. With plants becoming ever bigger given advances in seed treatments and inoculants, too, root development becomes ever more important so that plants can access the nutrients they need to become robust. While there are plenty of options for in-furrow fertilizers on the market, I’ll put a plug in here for CVA’s very own Begin. It’s seed-safe and low-salt, works across soil types and will cause nearly zero phytotoxicity or root damage.

Tissue samples and foliar micronutrients.

Plants don’t lie. A tissue sample lets you know what a plant needs and so enables you to make strategic decisions about what to do. Knowing what a plant needs will help you make beneficial tweaks to your plan (especially around the reproductive phase) to get stands established to your liking and maximize pod weight, which is so dependent upon nutrients. Knowing what a plant needs also prevents the unnecessary use of a product, saving you time, hassle, and, of course, money.

Optimizing sunlight.

Every leaf on every plant needs sunlight.  Soybeans are relatively ineffective at photosynthesis so cannot afford to lose any capability.  Which is exactly what is happening when we watch lower leaves yellow and drop, a common occurrence in soybean fields.

Our beans require the same precision in planting as our corn.  The same attention to population, row width, and placement to maximize their exposure to sunlight.  (I suspect that we have a serious discussion about plant populations in our future as high populations may be compromising this aim.)

Anyhow, friends, my point here is that much of what the experts propose isn’t wild or crazy.  It is tried and true, and by growers among us.  They propose things that make agronomic sense and just need our time and commitment.

Higher soybeans yields aren’t lectures or light years away—just a talk with your FSA, really.