Monthly Archives: April 2012

Drop #Soybean Seeding Rate & Save $

Increasing input costs are forcing producers to evaluate every decision they make. With soybean seed costs on the rise, producers in the Greater Quad County On-Farm Research group wondered if they could reduce their soybean populations while maintaining yield and saving money. On-farm research conducted in field scale, randomized, and replicated farmer plots and at the South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center from 2006-2008 proved producers could.

Since 2006, planting rates of 90,000, 120,000, 150,000, and 180,000 seeds per acre have been planted in 12 irrigated soybean fields on 30-inch rows. Prior to this research, most of these producers usually planted 160,000-180,000 seeds/acre. The 90,000 low rate was determined based on UNL research recommending not to replant a hailed soybean stand if at least 90,000 plants/acre remained in the field.

Table 1. Soybean stands and yields at four seeding rates, averaged from five sites and 20 replications in 2008.
Planting
Rate
Stand
(percentage)
Yield
(bu/ac)
90,000
93.5
68.1
120,000
91.0
69.5
150,000
90.3
69.8
180,000
88.5
69.6

In 2008, cooperating producers used these same rates to plant soybeans at five sites with 20 replications. Planting dates ranged from April 29 to June 3. In the end, there was little difference in percentage stand and yield among the four planting rates (see Table 1). The 120,000, 150,000, and 180,000 yields were statistically the same (only a 0.3-bushel difference between the 120,000 and 150,000 rates) and were significantly better than the 90,000 seed-per-acre plots; however, note that the 90,000 plot yielded only 1.7 bu/ac less than 150,000 plot. All data was statistically analyzed to determine the yield differences due to the various treatments.

The findings are similar to the 2006 and 2007 studies. In 2006, yield results ranged from 65.5 bu/ac at 90,000 to 67.4 bu/ac at 180,000. In 2007 yield results were 59.4, 59.6, 59.4, and 60.2 bu/ac for 90,000, 120,000, 150,000, and 150,000 respectively with no statistical difference.

Most likely, these results are indicative of soybean’s ability to compensate for reduced populations. Figure 1 shows increased plant branching at lower populations compared to less branching at higher populations. This was observed in all fields regardless of variety. Also observed in 2008, were two additional nodes/plant at the 90,000 population compared to the 180,000 population. Nodes are important as flowers, pods, and ultimately yield are produced from them.

A dryland field in Nuckolls County also showed interesting results. This field was hailed at the cotyledon stage, so planted populations of 100K, 130K, and 160K became average actual stands of 74,417; 89,417; and 97,917 plants per acre. August rains in 2006 helped deliver yields of 38.6, 40.6 and 42.7 bu/ac, respectively. 

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Figure 1a. Lower planted populations of 120,000 compensated for reduced plants by increased branching, flowering, and pod set, regardless of typical variety architecture.

Figure 1b. Fields with planted populations of 150,000 were observed having a more erect architecture with reduced branching compared to fields planted at rates of 120,000.

Rates for Drilled Soybean:  

In 2006, one drilled field in irrigated conditions in Fillmore County yielded 68.4 bu/ac, 66.6 bu/ac, and 67.2 bu/ac for planting rates of 150,000, 175,000, and 190,000 seeds per acre respectively. Another study in 2006 conducted by the Soybean Feed Grains and Profitability Project in a rain-fed field in Lancaster County showed a slight but significant yield advantage to drilling soybean at a rate of 152,500 seeds per acre compared to 115,000 seeds per acre. Yield for the higher seeding rate was 56.8 bu/ac compared to 56.0 bu/ac with the lower seeding rate. When using grain drills and reducing soybean populations, variable seed spacing and seed depth within a drilled row can be an issue for soybean emergence. This is why a population increase for drilled beans is often recommended.

Recommendation: Plant Soybeans at 120,000 Seeds/Acre

Based on three years of consistent research results, UNL specialists recommend reducing planting populations from an average of 160,000 seeds/acre to 120,000 seeds/acre in 30-inch rows. This reduction of 40,000 seeds per acre results in a savings of $10.66 to $18.57 per acre based on seed costs of $40-65 a bag. For three years producers were able to achieve a 90% stand and have not seen a statistical yield variance from 150,000 or even 180,000 seeds/acre. With soybean seed costs increasing, reducing soybean planting populations is another way producers can survive high input costs of crop production.

Plant #Soybeans Early for Increased Yields

While I got this posted in our CropWatch Web site, I didn’t get it on my blog till now!  Hopefully this inspires many of you to get soybeans planted yet this week!  

Planters are rolling throughout the state and given the size of today’s equipment corn planting is rapidly progressing.  Based on UNL research, we would encourage you to consider planting your soybeans as soon as possible—preferably before the end of April for the southern two-thirds of Nebraska and or the first week of May for the northern third of Nebraska. While evening temperatures have been low, consider the percent risk of frost for emerged plants not planted seeds. The above recommendation considers a 10% risk of frost 7-10 days after planting, the time when soybeans would most likely emerge.

Why plant early? Five years of UNL small plot and on-farm research has proven that early planted soybeans yield more than late planted beans—regardless of whether the spring has been cold and wet or warm and dry. Soybeans are a photoperiod-sensitive crop so the goal is to allow the plant to use the sun’s energy to accumulate as many nodes as possible as day length decreases after June 21. Nodes are important because that’s where pods, seeds, and ultimately yield are produced.  The goal is to have the soybean canopy “green to the eye by the fourth of July!”.  Thus the plants are absorbing all the sunlight possible not allowing any to be wasted by hitting the soil.

Table 1 shows how three years of on-farm research have resulted in an average of 3 bu/ac yield increase (with a range of 1-10 bu/ac depending on the year and the planting date range of early versus later planting). With today’s soybean prices, a 3 bu/ac yield increase adds up (see Table 2). We do recommend a fungicide/insecticide seed treatment to reduce the risk of damping off diseases and bean leaf beetles which tend to feed on early-planted soybeans. 

Several previous CropWatch articles explain soybean planting date in more detail. Please see these for more information:

Table 1:  Nebraska On-farm Research Early and Late Planted Soybean Yield Results (2008-2010)

Year

Producer

Date

Reps

Rainfed/

Irrigated

Variety

Row Spacing

Yield (bu/acre)

2008

SCAL Early

Apr. 29

3

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

67.2

2008

SCAL Late

May 15

3

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

65.8

2008

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 30

3

Irrigated

NC+ 2895

30”

68.4

2008

Seward Co. Late

May 19

3

Irrigated

NC+ 2895

30”

66.2

2008

York Co. Early

Apr. 23

8

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

66.9

2008

York co. Late

May 14

8

Irrigated

Producers 286

30”

63.5

2008

Fillmore Co. Early

Apr. 30

7

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

81.0

2008

Fillmore Co. Late

May 19

7

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

77.5

2009

SCAL Early

Apr. 27

4

Rainfed

Pioneer 93M11

30”

37.6+

2009

SCAL Late

May 18

4

Rainfed

Pioneer 93M11

30”

37.2

2009

Saunders Co. Early

May 3

6

Rainfed

NC+ A63RR

15”

66.6

2009

Saunders Co. Late

May 21

6

Rainfed

NC+ A63RR

15”

65.1

2009

SCAL Early

Apr. 27

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

70.2

2009

SCAL Late

May 18

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

68.1

2009

Fillmore Co. Early

Apr. 24

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

69.5

2009

Fillmore Co. Late

May 15

4

Irrigated

Pioneer 93M11

30”

68.4

2009

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 24

4

Irrigated

NC+ 2A63

30”

73.2

2009

Seward Co. Late

May 20

4

Irrigated

NC+ 2A63

30”

71.3

2009

York Co. Early

Apr. 30

3

Irrigated

NK 28B4

30”

59.1

2009

York Co. Late

May 15

3

Irrigated

NK 28B4

30”

58.6

2010

Saunders Co. Early

Apr. 18

6

Rainfed

Channel 2751

15”

75.7

2010

Saunders Co. Late

May 18

6

Rainfed

Channel 2751

15”

71.2

2010

Seward Co. Early

Apr. 19

6

Irrigated

Channel 3051RR

30”

72.0

2010

Seward Co. Late

May 24

6

Irrigated

Channel 3051RR

30”

62.3

Average Early

 

 

 

 

 

70.0*

Average Late

 

 

 

 

 

67.1

*Statistically significant at 95% level.
+SCAL Rainfed was not included in the combined statistical analysis but Saunders Co. Rainfed was compared with irrigated yields from other locations.

Table 3:  Economic Advantage to a 3 bu/ac Yield Increase Due to Early Soybean Planting Date

Price of Soybeans  $ 7.00  $ 8.00  $ 9.00  $ 10.00  $ 11.00  $ 12.00  $ 13.00  $ 14.00
Economic Advantage  $ 21.00  $ 24.00  $ 27.00  $ 30.00  $ 33.00  $ 36.00  $ 39.00  $ 42.00

Spring Miller Moths!

They’re everywhere!  Finding ways to get inside homes, lining the sides of houses, and swarming around lights at night.  TheMiller moths number one question last week from farmers, crop consultants, and home-owners was “what are the millers/moths flying around?”  They are mostly army cutworm moths that are on their annual migration from the south.  Usually they arrive in our area in May but everything this year seems to be about 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule.  They can stay in the area for 2-3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks if cool, wet conditions occur.  Hot, dry conditions will move them out of the area.  While a nuisance, they are mostly a pest in wheat and alfalfa-so farmers with these crops need to be scouting.  In alfalfa, we’re close enough to first cutting that I don’t anticipate needing an insecticide for it, but I do encourage you to watch regrowth for the second cutting as the larvae may be feeding by then.  Since we’re not cutting wheat, be scouting it to ensure larvae aren’t causing significant damage.  We may need to consider an insecticide treatment with fungicides this year in wheat when trying to protect the flag leaf.  Some have been concerned that these are black cutworm moths and have been applying ½ rates of insecticides during corn planting.  We don’t recommend this at UNL as these are army cutworm moths and don’t anticipate a problem to our corn crop from them.  We recommend scouting once corn has emerged as it’s a better integrated pest management (IPM) strategy and saves you money not to needlessly apply insecticides on broad acres when black cutworm problems are typically patchy within certain fields every year.

For homeowners, if you have shrubs or bushy plants around your homes, you may notice more of these millers as they reside in these types of areas.  There’s no chemical for controlling them.  Some things you can do are change your outside lights from white to yellow and keep outside lighting to a minimum.  Also caulking can help.  Ultimately, they’re a short term nuisance and more information about their life cycle and management from Dr. Bob Wright, UNL Extension Entomologist, can be found at our UNL CropWatch Web site.  

Lawn Care

I really appreciated Gary Zoubek presenting at our lawn care workshop last Thursday!  I also appreciated all the questions and good discussion; hopefully everyone walked away learning at least one new idea or tip!

One common question was what to do with areas that were killed out by summer patch last summer.  Summer patch is a fungal disease that is favored by applying nitrogen too early in the spring, by a compromised root system by too wet of soils in the spring, by stress from summer heat, and irrigating in the evenings.  Last year I was receiving calls from all over the County regarding this disease.  Eventually affected areas can refill, but in many cases, that just didn’t happen.  Preventive fungicides right now are recommended to help prevent the fungus from causing damage to your lawn again this summer.  

So besides a preventive fungicide what can you do?  The best time to reseed is actually in the fall.  One option is to keep these areas weed-free including of crabgrass so that doesn’t overtake these areas.  Reseed with a disease resistant variety in the fall following the recommendations in this extension circular

Your other option is to reseed/overseed right now with a disease resistant variety knowing that you may fight crabgrass this first year.  Overseeding and reseeding are recommended to occur from now through May 1 for Kentucky bluegrass and from now to early June for tall fescue.  You can determine the correct timing of all lawn practices by visiting the turf calendar Web site.  Simply choose whether you have Kentucky bluegrass or fescue.  Click on a lawn practice and scroll the circle on the calendar area to the current month to find the recommendation for that time.

Some other tips regarding lawn care:  sharpening lawn mower blades is key to not shredding the grass which can invite pathogens that cause disease; mulch lawn clippings as often as possible as they contain nitrogen that can be released back into the soil; use a fertilizer product with the highest amount of  a slow release nitrogen as possible (check fine print on the fertilizer bag); and sweep or use a leaf blower to send all clippings and granular pesticides back onto the lawn as leaving them on the sidewalk allows for them to be washed into the gutters and eventually lakes and streams.  Right now, a silvery colored fungus called powdery mildew is visible in places in lawns that are shady or have minimal air movement.  We don’t typically recommend a fungicide as this disease is more aesthetic than harmful.  

Here’s wishing you a nice lawn this summer!  Also a reminder of our free Container Gardening workshop to be held April 19th from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds.  Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator, will be presenting on container gardening for vegetables and flowers, creating a few container gardens for door prizes, and provide creative ideas for container gardening.  Please RSVP at 402-762-3644 so we can have a meal count, hope to see you there, and invite your friends!

Homecoming and Sendoff!

Homecomings and Sendoffs-common functions in the lives of military families!  Both are filled with patriotism and emotion.  Friday was the homecoming for 46 members of Agribusiness Development Team (ADT)2 who have served nearly 10 months in Afghanistan.  Twelve members remain in country to complete the mission and ensure a successful handoff to ADT3 which had their sendoff today.  

I have the opportunity with UNL Extension to have gotten to know members of both these teams before they deploy as UNL Extension, NRCS, USDA National Agroforestry Service, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers have all be involved with providing agricultural training to these teams.   Building those relationships has been key for building trust for reach-back regarding questions when these teams are in country.   

As I pulled up on Friday, the first site was that of the Patriot Guard standing along the parking lot holding the flags.  The wind
was blowing such that the flags were completely unfurled.  That site alone brought tears to my eyes.  I still feel our flag is one of the most beautiful things in this world!  Knowing it would be a tough day anyway, I stood in the background trying to capture photos and video to share with the team members and families later.  The busses pulled up to families and friends flocking to greet the soldiers and airmen.  A plane flying overhead resulted in an eruption of cheers from the crowd as the soldiers and airmen debarked
 the busses and walked down the crowded sidewalk of cheering and anxious family and friends.  It was a beautiful site and the few of us who came to support the unit whose husbands remain in Afghanistan were so happy to see these families reunited.  A few tears welled up in our eyes but our pride for our Country and these soldiers and airmen allowed us to suppress the tears and be joyful for the families.

Today as I attended the sendoff for ADT3, again I observed mixed emotions.  Changes have caused for restructuring of that team as well and some were disappointed they were unable to deploy at this time.  Family members were fairly upbeat and showed their pride for their soldiers.  I was excited for the opportunity to say one last good-bye to the team I had gotten to know during training, meet their families, and assure them we were here to help with reach-back however we could.  While I hadn’t thought about it, maybe the sendoff was also helping me realize that my soldier will Lord willing soon be home as well.  These ADT missions have been key for helping the Afghan people become sustainable and feed their families and in training and mentoring the Extension and University people in Afghanistan.  I’m so proud of and thankful for our soldiers and airmen for their work on these missions!

 

 

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