ReachOut: Kill Your Soybeans

ReachOut: Kill Your Soybeans from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

This article always comes with the promise of a crazy idea.  Here’s one…

Kill your crop, make more money.

Do I have your attention?

My usual schtick is plant health yadda yadda.  Keep em’ green and so forth.  But that’s out the window today.  Right now, as we live and breathe, crushers everywhere are running out of beans.  The result: demand for soybeans is high and the market is experiencing an inverse basis.  It’s an unusual situation, and one that we can take advantage of, if we choose.  The window for this rare market opportunity is tight and small though, so listen up, people.

If the words “market opportunity” have got you ready and rarin’ to go for whatever it is that I’m about to describe here, cool your jets for a second.  This is all very delicate actually.  Timing and your solid understanding and execution are very, terribly important.

To begin, crushers need more beans now, but the moment that they get one more bean than they need, this is all kaput.  So, if you’re considering doing this, you must understand your basis risk, and you must fully know your delivery window.  Those are critical details.  Now, I’m not a grain guy, so if you have questions about that, call yours.

If you’re considering doing this, you must also understand that timing is everything.  You don’t want to kill your soybeans until the beans have detached from the pod wall.  Killing a plant before this detachment will result in shrunken beans and a major reduction in yield.  So don’t jump the gun.  Look for physiological cues to guide you in your timing.  Here’s what you’re looking for:

Plants that have 65% brown pods and have dropped 75% of their leaves.

Or, beans that are at 30% moisture.

These cues signal that the membrane that recently attached the bean to the pod has separated.  This is your green light.

How are we going to do this?  Our weapon of choice today is 1¾ to 2 ounces of Sharpen and a full load of MSO.  For ground application, you’re going to mix this with 15 gallons of water.  For aerial application, you’ll use 5 gallons.  Five days after spraying, you’ll go in and cut your beans.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

The best laid plan is to spray just a few days worth of combining at a time since you don’t want your beans hanging in the fields too long.  I swear that you’re going to enjoy combining for once though.  Because all the beans will be the same amount of dead, they’ll clean nicely, and since the Sharpen is going to kill your waterhemp too, your combine will run through it like butter.

The benefits of this crazy idea are many.  I’ve already mentioned that combining will be fun.  You’ll swear less.  Also, you’ll be harvesting beans at about 13% moisture instead of 9%, making for a 4.2 bushel per acre yield increase.  That alone puts your return on investment at about 2:1.  The cleaner beans though will also help to reduce harvest loss and the 3-4 bushels per acre you’ll save there pushes your return on investment near 4:1.  Lastly, it was about six weeks ago that I didn’t unleash my plan to deal with stem borers, but here it is.  We’re flanking the suckers and straight up avoiding the 25% potential loss they bring.

All that?  That’s real money, friends.Blue Box

This is full contact agronomy.  It’s a little nuts, but the benefits are big and yours for the taking as long as you proceed tactfully.  This brings me to my last must if you’re to go ahead with this: communication is essential.  You want to do this?  Great.  Let everyone know: your crop scout, salesperson, sprayer, and everyone else involved in the operation.  Make sure they hear you.  Make sure you hear them.

Then let’s go kill some soybeans.