CONSIDER THESE FACTORS WHEN PLANTING SOYBEANS
Your summer crop programme planning might include more than one crop as well as the production of soybeans either within a dryland or irrigated crop rotation cycle.
Some of the considerations for the ideal crop husbandry required would differ depending on whether dryland or irrigated production is to be done.
The commodity derivatives market or Safex price for soybeans over March and May 2019 is R4 807/ton. The gross margin analysis comparing various crop options would have indicated the expected net returns from the various crop options produced on your farm and crop yields experienced with the soils and climatic zones of the area in which you farm.
The price levels per ton indicate that a minimum target of 2 tons or more yields for dryland production of soybeans would be the ideal. Do your own detailed cost analysis to be sure.
Management and production factors to focus on during October and November
Seed and planting
Some dryland production areas received over 50 mm in July and together with the late summer and autumn rains the soil profile should be almost a field capacity. This was evident especially on lands under conservation tillage or no-till this year.
Should this be the case on your farm, planting soybeans early is a choice. This might be the year for really good yields. One could perhaps plant a third of your soybean crop early in September or October and the balance over November and early December.
Soybean cultivar choice will be the most important decision you will make. Purchase soybean cultivars from reputed suppliers and ask their advice as to which variety is best for long or medium season production. There are so many choices available now that are tailored to your soil potential, rainfall patterns and heat units experienced during the growing season in your area.
The exact choice of an early, medium or late cultivar planted at the correct time can really be the make or break factor that ensures that you will attain the highest yield possible under your local conditions. Make sure that you have bought enough seed for a replant should this be required. A final plant population of between 240,000 and 280,000 is a good rule of thumb to follow as an ideal for dryland production. Apply this target to both 0,76 metre 0,91 metre spaced rows when calibrating your planter.
When planting, whether using conventional or conservation tillage methods make sure your planter soil engagement mechanism is correctly set to ensure good soil to seed contact and fertilisation levels have been correctly calibrated to the recommendations.
Some farmers use a small amount of nitrogen at planting, others don’t. Consult your seed supplier and agronomist to know the accepted practice and experience regarding fertilisation for top yields and experience on your farm or area. Fertilisation based on the nutrients to be extracted is the minimum that must be used. A shortage of available phosphorus and potassium will have a major impact on targeted yields. Have your soil analysis done on time so that you know why you are using the recommended application of nutrients tailored to your soils fertility status. Buy the right fertiliser according to recommendations in time.
Rhizobium and nodulation
Make sure that your rhizobia inoculation programme is of the best and use inoculants from the best sources. Don’t take any chances in this regard and inoculate your seed exactly according to instructions. Some products can be mixed several days before planting while others must be mixed correctly hours before you plant for best results.
Many inoculants include root growth enhancing stimulants in the basic inoculant product. These can really work depending on the fertility status and soil tilth and structure found in your lands. Do not expose the mixed seed directly into sunlight when filling your planter with the treated seed.
It is important to monitor the development of the nitrogen fixing rhizobium bacteria on the soybean roots. A good inoculation to create strong and many root nodules is the key to achieving a high yield.
Weed control programme
If you are using glyphosate tolerant cultivars make sure that your spray rigs are maintained for timely and correct applications so that any problem weeds are controlled at the right time within your planting planning. Please seek advice as to the timing and concentration of the glyphosate product to be used. This advice holds for mechanical tillage methods supported by non-glyphosate weed control methods.
Plan to have all your soybean direct crop inputs on hand in time, on the farm, after considering all the best recommendations from your team of advisors. There are so many technical advancements in cultivar choice and production methods each year one must develop a network of advisors that are at the forefront of every aspect of soybean production.
Article submitted by a retired farmer.
Publication: October 2018