Seeds for Success

The optimal time to plant soybeans is the same time as you plant corn. A short series on soybean planting best practices
By Jeff Shaner, AgVenture Soybean Product Manager

Welcome back for Part 2 of a series on soybean planting tips from my Unofficial Owner’s Manual.

Article 3 – When to plant.

Many of you are not “first crop” soybean planters. For you, the soybean planting date is determined by your first crop. So this article is for first croppers.

I can imagine many of you saying that it is way too wet outside right now. To quote my friend Clif, “I hear that.” But warm weather is knocking on the door this week and my extended forecast is calling for more of that warmth as well as some moisture.

To cut right to the punch line: soybeans want to be planted at the same time as it is optimal for you to plant corn. This is where you get your best yield potential. Here at my house 90 miles south of Chicago, that is usually the third week of April. If the forecast later in April doesn’t call for unusual cold, it is time to start relocating those soybean seeds into their new home here. Translate that into optimal dates where you live. I know our friends Corey and Jake on the Indiana/Kentucky border will go in just a few days if the soil conditions are dry enough. Sounds perfect to me!

There are risks, yes. An untimely killing frost after emergence can put you in the replant business. How many years out of 10 would that be in your area? If you are more
offensive-minded than defensive, you’ll take the majority years and use them to harvest more grain.

“But what about that year I planted soys in early July and had 65 bushel beans?” See, I knew you were thinking that.

First of all, top yields in any situation are a choice. So I congratulate you for making the necessary choices and in-season decisions that allowed you to bin those extra bushels.

Second of all, there was a planting window that particular year where many growers were able to plant their corn at a normal time (then it got too wet and the beans waited and waited and waited some more). Some of our customers were able to plant beans then too. Planting date matters. Good yields at a latter planting date are good yields. Great yields were achieved with that earlier planting window. 80-85 bpa was typical across the upper Midwest.

We planted a late crop again in 2019, and there were many regions with adequate conditions to once again make really good yields. Accept those with joy, but do not be lulled to sleep on this planting date thing. You lose potential as time goes past optimal. Want some round figures? Six-to-10 percent lost potential for every two-and-a-half weeks that pass after optimal date.

Is that official and you can call your lawyer? Remember, this is the Unofficial Owner’s Manual based on my 30+ years of observations in this realm. I am suggesting routines for you to incorporate into your farming practices that I know will pay off for those of you who believe there are always more bushels to produce.

To be continued.

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