Last time I talked about soybeans, I made fun of them. For being fickle and boring. I’m not reneging those statements, but they’re not the full picture either. In addition to being fickle and boring, beans are also incredibly adaptable. They overcome stress and injury in extraordinary fashion, kind of like Rocky Balboa: You beat them ‘til they’re ugly and that’s when they surprise you with their resiliency and strength.
For example, should a soybean plant lose its topmost bud due to hail or mechanical damage, etc., instead of whining and withering, the lateral buds, once kept in check by the apical dominance of the terminal bud, kick into high gear, growing out and up. The plant responds to the initial damage with an extraordinary growth spurt.
“That’s nice,” you might say, “but so what?” And well, friends, I’m not just singing a love song to the soybeans. Unleashed lateral buds mean a significant increase in node development in your plants. And where there is a node, there may be a pod, and where there is a pod, there may be a bean, or two, or three, or four…
Hail damage then could well mean more beans for you.
That’s perhaps good news for those of you who’ve suffered from hail this year. Damage to a bean plant doesn’t mean that all is lost, and can, in fact, mean higher yield potential. A simple evaluation of your field will shed light on your plants’ potential for recovery and more.
For those of you who haven’t suffered from hail yet this year, no need to do your hail dance. No need to take a thrasher to your beans either. Undamaged beans can achieve the same higher yield potential without risking injury to your crops. The simple application of a Plant Growth Regulator to your beans ends apical dominance exactly as physical damage does. The lateral buds are emancipated and it’s node after node coming your way. A PGR will additionally help with nodal differentiation, which means a plant heavy with gorgeous pods.
Interested? Good. There is the potential for 100 bushel yield here. But read on first, because every pod you create you must fill with beans, and that isn’t easy work.
I hesitate to write on here because as exciting as a 100 bushel yield would be, I want you to think long and hard about this. Applying a PGR in pursuit of higher yield forever changes the world of your soybeans—and there is no going back. This is skydiving. This is getting a tattoo. This is stepping outside the wire.
There are also no guarantees. As is the lousy catch with most things in life, there is no promise that this will work. It can work. It has before. But the risk here is real and big. Remember, this is skydiving.
Don’t do this if you don’t intend to finish it. What does that mean? Water and nutrition, water and nutrition. This takes planning and this takes $50-$60 per acre and this takes commitment to following every step outlined below with great and fabulous fidelity:
Step 1: Apply the PGR.
Step 2: R1-R4 is the critical window in this process. Ensure that your plants have adequate water in R1 and R2. If it doesn’t rain, you must irrigate.
Step 3: Like I said, R1-R4 is the critical window. In R2, apply nitrogen, potassium, and sulfur, which are building blocks for protein.
Step 4: One last time, R1-R4 is the critical window. In R4, apply a fungicide, insecticide, and micronutrient to relieve plant stress and it fully functioning. You want the plants’ photosynthetic engines running at full efficiency.
Step 5: Water to finish. Seriously. As long as your plants have leaves on them, water them. Even if the leaves are funky and yellow. Water, water, water.
And if you have questions, call me.
Happy skydiving, friends.