Field Crops Webinar - Soybean Production - Mike Staton

February 22, 2021

In the second session on Feb. 22, MSU Extension soybean educator Mike Staton focuses on “Improving Soybean Production Income.” The average soybean price for the 2020-2021 marketing year is projected to be $11.15 per bushel. This is welcome news considering the average prices for the previous two years were below the breakeven price for most producers. The higher price will tempt soybean producers to place a higher priority on increasing yields than on reducing production costs. Staton recommends resisting this temptation and proposes that the best way to capitalize on the higher soybean price is to maximize soybean yield without increasing costs. 

This presentation highlights management practices that maximize yield potential without increasing costs. The economic impact of various crop inputs such as fungicides, seed, seed treatments, starter fertilizer and foliar fertilizers will also be covered. The economic impact for the inputs was determined from numerous on-farm research trials conducted across multiple locations and years.

Video Transcript

Good evening everyone and thank you for joining us tonight for the MSU extension field crop webinar series. My name is Jim Isleib, I'm a field crops educator serving the upper Peninsula, I'm located in Munising Michigan and tonight our topic is improving soybean production income and our speaker is Mike Staton, my extension colleague. Mike is a Extension Soybean Educator - Jim, I appreciate it, I appreciate the invitation to be able to present tonight and everyone for participating. It is an important topic and we do have some really good news, of course, the market prices the demand side of the equation has been really strong and so prices are looking much better than they were certainly a year ago or even six months ago. So, things are looking good for the near term but it still is important to to consider how to manage income. One thing I wanna say is I wanna introduce my position a little bit. Those of you that know me know that I am an MSU Extension Soybean Educator but you may not know that my position is jointly funded by the university and by the Michigan soybean checkoff. And that allows me to focus 100% of my time on soybean production topics. And we do a lot of on-farm research and so the recommendations I'm gonna be making today, many of those are gonna be supported by our on-farm research and other research data. So I'm gonna jump right into this before I do, though this slide is really important, it basically, all of these words convey one important idea and that's everything that MSU and MSU extension does is available to everyone. So, one of the first things that we can do is rotate crops. Sometimes our corn and soybean prices get out of whack a little bit, it doesn't happen real often but sometimes soybeans are favored by the market and we will tend to lean towards maybe planting a few more soybeans in rotation and I'm gonna encourage you to maybe stay with your rotation and resist that temptation. Here's some data from the University of Wisconsin that supports that. So the yellow bars are the corn, for corn different rotations here and right here and then the pinkish bars are our four different soybean rotations and then the three wheat rotations. The most highest yielding rotation for all three crops is a corn soybean wheat rotation. That's the highest earner for corn, highest earner for soybeans and highest earner for wheat. So that's some really long-term data, multiple year data from University of Wisconsin. Now what this slide shows is this is from the same person, this is from Joe Lauer out at University of Wisconsin and what this shows is here's our corn soybean rotation, 56 bushels per acre, long-term. What this next bar is, is if we go out of soybeans for awhile and then come back in what kind of yield we would have. And I can't remember from Joe's data how many years it is but it's probably three to five years out and then you come back in and you get this higher yield. So, the second year that you're planting soybeans though back to back, like, let's say, we're going from a corn soybean rotation to second year soybeans. We're really only given up, one couple of bushels per acre. We're not losing that much in that second year. The problem is, is when we go to the third and fourth years then we're really starting to lose yield. So if you have to go back to back, you can do that without too big of a, you know, to get your rotation and balance, you don't suffer that much but if you go longer than that, you do. So the other thing I wanna talk about or another step is maybe consider eliminating or reducing your tillage practices. Soybeans typically have not really had a high response to tillage, and it's not just Michigan data, I'll present some data from elsewhere that sort of supports this. Matter of fact this is again from Wisconsin, you probably see it looks familiar, but so what we've got these rotations across the x-axis here. Here's the soybean corn rotation, here's a first year of soybeans, second year of soybeans and so on. And then this SS is continuous soybeans at the bottom there. And so if you look across all those different soybean rotations, you really don't see a difference between the blue bar and the pinkish bar or salmon bar. And the salmon is a conventional tillage, the blue is no till, and they're basically the same. We really don't see a big difference especially statistically. The only time you do see a difference is over here in first year, soybeans after and you do see that the no till gives a little bit of an advantage, but then you come over here in continuous soybeans and we give up that advantage. And I think the reason we're doing that, is we're just not getting your organic matter put back in the system that corn provides. So, corn is certainly a very valuable rotational crop for soybeans, but you can see tillage does not have a big effect. Here's another trial and this is actually done in Ontario and what's cool about this is it's fairly recent 2014, but what's really neat, is he compared no tillage to moldboard plow probably the two extremes of our tillage systems and then several alternatives in between. I wished he would have tested a, like a chisel and fit opportunity, but he didn't but what's really cool about his research then, so he looked at these different tillage systems for two years, but then he also looked at planting into those tillage systems with a drill or a planter, so he's got kind of some subplots there. So there's some really interesting information to be gleaned from this. Let's just stay in the grill column and you'll see that the moldboard plow is the highest yielding in here but it's not statistically higher yielding than the no till. So you've got your extremes and they really didn't perform any different when we planted with a drill. Well, what happens if we plant with a planter, the same thing actually, the no-till performs a little bit better but they're not statistically different again. This third column is pretty cool because what that does is it shows you what's the advantage in bushels per acre to the planter over the drill. And you'll see that it's not really that big in any of the different tillage systems until you come to the second one where we chopped the stocks and then tried to plant no till and that's not something that we really recommend and maybe many people have seen that, but you end up with a mat and it can be a real problem or problematic in planting with the drill. Now, the planter handled all that chapter residue much better than what the drill did. The other situation where the planter perform better than the drill was down here in a fall disc and then a field cultivate situation. We gained two and a half bushels per acre by planting with a planter versus a drill. So that's a question that we do get, and we are gonna be doing some planting system comparisons in our on-farm trials. So if you own both pieces of equipment and you wanna see what your relative yield difference is, in your tillage system, we would like to work with you this year in our on-farm trials we're calling it a planting system comparison. - Mike, we've got a question. - Yes. - What was the role with on the planter compared to the drill? - Ooh! I would have to go back and look at that. I believe the planter was a 15 inch interplant planner and I think the drill was also plugged every other hole to be at 15 inches. I'm almost positive of that. - Okay, thanks. - All right, and now this is our 2019, 2020, on farm tillage data here in Michigan. So we had two trials in 19 and we had four trials in 20. And what we were primarily looking at is just a one pass tillage system in the spring versus until control. We did have one situation though that did something different. This Barry County site at KBS actually was chiseled in the spring and then finished in the spring. So two passes, and you can see what the break even would have to be up there, would have to be over three bushels per acre to break even there. And we just weren't able to do that. So the way these charts look, I'm gonna show a bunch of these kinds of charts. So the way this is interpreted is this bar or this line that goes across here is the untilled control. And then the height of the bar is going to be the difference between the tillage system or whatever the practice is and the on and the control. So in this case, this first one over Natto County in the left, we see that we got a three and a half bushel increase, which is really nice. And it was economical to just a single pass of a vertical tillage tool. But we did not see that at any of the other locations. Absolutely no difference there just a bunch of noise, we didn't see any differences. So one out of those sites, a one out of six did it yield but the others didn't. When we average them all together, a 1.3 bushels per acre was the net and that's about a break even for a single tillage pass. So that's a, some supporting data that just says tillage is really not really a magic bullet. Now, here's one that is though this is just incredibly important, we need to select our varieties very carefully for both attributes yield and pest resistance. Here's some data that shows why yield is important. What I did is I took the MSU soybean performance reports from 2013 to 2019, year by year and I took the Roundup ready varieties only and then I looked at the high yield minus the average for each year and then also the highest yield minus the lowest yield. So, let's start with the lowest yield in which the extremes and it's a phenomenal difference. You know, it averages almost 13 bushels per acre just by choosing the best yield and variety. Well, let's say I'm already doing a pretty good job of choosing varieties and a hit and miss I'm pretty good, you know, getting a good average. Well, what can I gain by planting the highest yielding varieties? I still stand to gain six bushels per acre across those years by planting the highest yielding varieties over an average yielding variety for the trial. So it's easiest way to put money in your pocket. It doesn't cost you anything and it really does make a big difference. Now, the other side of that is the pest resistance. We do need to choose pest resistant varieties because they are most cost-effective and fade out effective way of managing many of our pests. You think about white mold, sudden death syndrome, soybean cyst nematodes, Phytophthora root and stem rot, those are all managed by variety selection that, there's other tactics but this is probably our most reliable and least expensive. We wanna plant our soybeans early. You don't have to plant them ultra early, I know there's an ultra early kind of a buzz and when I think of ultra early, I think of before April 15th. I think anything from the 20th after, April 20th after if conditions are good, soil moisture is good, that's fair game. We need to be considering that as a planting window here in Michigan in our soybean production areas. This is a slide from Dr.Specht from University of Nebraska, Jim has since retired but what we've got is two different years. We've got 2003 up here, 2004 down here, and then we have four different planting dates in each photo and what you will see is the larger canopy that's the biggest thing that jumps out at this as you get so much larger canopy by well close to the summer does a little after the summer solstice in both pictures. Reason that's important is that's so when we have our most daylight, the solar radiation is the most intense, we're harvesting that sunlight, we really wanna have as big a factory for harvesting that sunlight as we can and converting it into Photosynth, or using photosynthesis to turn it into sugars. So getting a larger factory over here is certainly beneficial. We also get more nodes per plant, more on the main stem by planting earlier. So planting earlier is a really big thing to do. One of the things we don't think about with planting really though, is look at all this bare soil over here. Not only do we not have the bigger factory to harvest sunlight, but that sunlight is striking that soil surface and it's evaporating the moisture right off of there. Instead of driving it through the plant, driving it through the stone mates and facilitating carbon dioxide exchange, it is just going wasted right off the soil surface. So, that's one of the biggest reasons we really need to close those rows early is to prevent that moisture loss. So, as we also did some planting date trials and we did this with the help of Dr. Manny Singh, Manny wrote a proposal to the North Central Soybean Research Project, along with some of his colleagues in the North central region and they're looking at planting dates across many states and Michigan's one of them. And so Manny, we appreciate your help with this but because of Manny's helped we were able to get quite a few trials. 11 trials, three in 2019 and another eight in 2020, so the yields are here and again, it's just the same. This is gonna be a normal planting date down here, we compared early planting versus normal planting. And when I say early, most of the trials were just in that window of last week of April, maybe first week of may, what we would consider just good, timely, early planting. And the later planting dates were about three weeks after that or the normal planting dates. There was a couple of exceptions. The Branch County dates, the three branch or sites, Branch County sites were all what I would consider ultra early. They were all three planted before, before April 15th, and one of them, we really hit a big home run over here six and a half bushels and when you ask the producer why is, you remember what the planting season was like, in 2019, he said, this was by far his best planting conditions. Things just deteriorated from then and that's where he saw down in Branch County. So he picked up six and a half bushels which is huge. We had a site up in St. Clair County that picked up 6.3 bushels this year and then another one in Cass County picked up four bushels. The other ones two branch sites those other two ultra early sites did not really amount to much. They were just noise. They don't have the asterisk, so they were not statistically significant. All these other dates even this one really doesn't count because it's just, we can't say with a high degree of confidence that it was due to the planting dates, that 3.2 bushels. But we can't say that this negative 1.2 bushels was caused by the planting dates either. So just sort of normal piano graph noise, cannabis spread. When you average them all together, we picked up two bushels per acre. Now, did we pick up two bushels per acre bonafide on every site? No, we did. It hit on three of them, three of the 11 sites. So I think the take home message with early planting is you don't really expect the higher yields. If you're planting before May 1st, for example, I don't think you can realistically expect much higher yields, so if you're planting into good conditions in May 1st year in, year out but what you're doing is you're spreading that harvest window and I would even argue, you might be minimizing your risk of getting into some wet weather in May. So I would not let some good weather and get away from me in that second half of April for soybean planting. This is kind of a risk, if you do it, if you're carrying crop insurance and you plant before the dates that are listed here. So let's take this cause it's one of the largest areas. The crop insurance date earliest planting date for that area is April 29th. If you plant before that you are giving up your pre-plant your replant coverage. So, but that's all you're giving up. You're not giving up any other coverage. You're not giving up the revenue coverage, you not giving up anything else. Only that replant coverage and if you're using a good seed treatment, a base seed treatment, the companies will generally cover your replanting costs. So, if you're going to plant early, let's talk about some of the management recommendations. A variety selection is number one, you wanna choose full season varieties, Manny Singh has shown that with his research data and you also wanna choose disease resistant varieties. And I would choose SDS certainly resistant varieties or tolerant varieties. I would choose VITAS for root back varieties and then I would also choose white mold varieties not that the plants are gonna be larger overall, they're typically not when we plant earlier but you're closing those rows earlier and creating a micro environment for those Sclerotia to germinate and the amphitheater sporulate. So that's what you're looking for. Why would choose white mold resistant variety with early planting, especially in really productive soils. Seed quality is really important, if I was planting ultra early, I would consider running a bigger test either the accelerated aging test or a cold germ test and Michigan crop improvement. You want those seed coats to be intact, you don't wanna have any check seed coach, you don't wanna have any, a lot of wrinkled seed coats. What happens in those situations is the cold water when we plant early can be imbibed too quickly and can affect the embryo and the code lead-ins adversely. The other thing that will cause that cold water to be imbibed too quickly as overly dry seed. When I say overly dry, probably 10%, something like that, I'd much rather plant 12% moisture seed early than 10% moisture seed, just, you know, the drier it is, the faster it's gonna imbibe moisture. Seed treatment is an essential and we're mostly thinking of diseases here. Pythium, sudden death syndrome and Phytophthora root rot. And again, like I mentioned you will get that replant coverage If you use a good base seed treatment. Soil temperatures, there's a lot of debate on this. I know that Jim Specht and whom I admire a lot does still adheres to that 50 degree temperature and those of you that are a little bit more conservative should adhere to that. Wait until your soil temperatures are 50 degrees for the first 12 hours of that seeds life in the soil. I think you can probably get more aggressive than that but I wouldn't go crazy. I wouldn't go much colder than probably 45 degrees but it's really that first and if you're planting when it's a little bit colder and early you might wanna wait until mid day to start planting. Let that solar radiation warm up the soil a little bit, get that seed into just a little bit warmer conditions for the first eight to 12 hours of its life. Acceptable stands, if you plant ultra early or even early you might get a little bit thinner stands than what you would like to have. And I think because of that early planting you can get by with center stands. We have this number that I came up with is actually based on our 58 individual planting rate trials, where I compared the 80,000 planting rate to twice that, to 160,000 planting rate on 58 trials over six years and what we showed is that you really didn't see that bigger difference. You get surprisingly high yields from these low stands and there were exceptions, but overall it was surprisingly good yields. This is the big one. Now the next bullet's a big one never plant when significant rainfall is eminent within 24 hours when anytime but certainly with early planting, it's really significant. You can get crusting, you can get a chilling injury to the seed, you can also affect pythium. So it's just not a good situation. You can lose a stand quicker that way than anything else. We saw that pretty widespread back in 2017 in mid Michigan, South mid Michigan there was a lot of beans planted really early and then we got those cold rains that caused some real serious problems. Bean leaf beetles do like to pick on early planting fields, so you do need to be ready to treat them if they exceed the threshold. Tillage is a mixed bag, when you tell the soil, you're gonna warm it up and when you warm it up you're going to speed up germination. Why do I say it's a mixed bag? Well, maybe you don't want those seeds to get up above the ground and then maybe potentially get froze off by late freeze event. Like what we saw in may of this year. And it's pretty rare that that happens in my career. I've only really been called out to look at this three times in my career. Two of those times it was in no till and the residue was much thicker around the plants that were affected and the worst. So closer to the plants and thicker. So when planting rate, we do wanna increase our planting rates by 10% if we're planting in April and a planting date, like I said, I think that first week of May is tops year in and year out. But we do have to weigh our conditions but by planting in April, you're extending that window. You're not shooting for higher yields necessarily but you're extending the window. The nice thing about planting early is you don't see a big difference between row wets, 30 inch rows will perform very well in really early planting in the month of April or even early May. Soil types, if you're talking about ultra early planting I think those coarse textured irrigated soils are a good candidate for that practice even for early planting. And I think they do take advantage of that down there but if they wanted to experiment with ultra early I think those coarse textured year soils would be a good place to go. You don't have to worry about crusting, they're well drained. There's just a number of things that are working in your favor. Where I would never plant ultra early, or maybe even in the month of April would be soils that have a history of poor drainage, crusting, poor emergence or thin or uneven stands. They're just not suitable for early planting. Planting depth, there's a reason we might wanna plant a little bit deeper with early planting is because it lets that soil reside in a little bit more uniform moisture and temperature regime, less fluctuations. And when I say deep, don't go crazy. I would say inch and three quarters, maybe two inch absolutely taps in those course textured soils but university of Nebraska did some multiple year data and I think in 13 and 14, and they showed that inch and three quarters was the optimum depth in their soils. Now lemme qualify that not in a crusting soil. A soil is prone to crusting. You don't wanna plant dirty. So, this is a big one, reduce planting rates. There's an opportunity for us to save our seed costs and without sacrificing yield. I really firmly believe that. This is a, the results of 58 trials conducted over six years and the way to interpret this chart, I know it's really busy but there's a lot of information in one chart and so here's our four planting rates across the bottom, across the X axis, 80, 000, 100,000, one thirty and one sixty and then these other clusters of bars are the individual years for each one of those planting rates. So the black bar is 2020, there's lightest bars 2015, and they just go chronologically in order from dark to light and from left to right. So, you can sort of put the years together. The lines then our income, and when I say income, it's basically just our gross income minus the seed cost. So, when we're looking at these, let's just look at the 80,000 rate. First thing I wanna show you is why we do our on-farm trials over multiple years. Look at the yield variation that we see in just that one planting rate, look at how low we got down here in 2017, and then how high we were in 2016, just the difference a year makes. And so lots of yield variability just because of the weather that we had those years. But if you compare a given planting rate across, they are just flat as can be each year, we saw that there's not a really big difference. So if there's not a big difference in yield but you're paying more for seed, income is gonna just go down. And we see that if you just look over here at the 130,000 versus the 160,000, look at what's happening to all of those income lines, they're all going down. Some are steeper than others, but they're all going down. The 160,000 was never the most profitable planting rate. It did beat the 130,000, probably four or five times out of those 58 trials. It beat it in yield but when you considered the seed cost, it was a wash or but it was never the clear winner economically, the 160,000 never was. So, a lot of information on that one side, but it is important. What this slide does is this takes all 58 trials and puts them into one bar. So this is all six years of the, and all 58 sites at 80,000 and you can see where we're at almost, you know, 60 bushels per acre. So, and then that line is the income. So these top two planting rates absolutely no difference at all. They were the exact same yield. So if they're the exact same yield and you're paying more for seeds, you're losing income by going to 160,000. Now, have, when we average all of our sites together, the a hundred thousand was our most profitable across all of our sites across all of the years when you average it all together. The two highest only beat the a hundred thousand by one bushel per acre, only one bushel per acre and that's why it was so profitable but, and the two highest only beat the 80,000 note by just about three bushels per acre 2.8, 2.8 bushels per acre. Now what this is, this is my attempt to take, to see what the relationship is between management practices and soybean planting rate performance. So, what we have in the right hand column here, is we've got the percentage of times, so like, let's just take this 21% that's a percentage, that's the number of times that the hundred and 60,000 planting rate, the highest planting rate we tested beat the 80,000 planting rate in our trials out of our 58 trials as the percent. So let's do a paired comparison. Let's look at rows, spacing thirties versus fifteens. What happened there? Well, when we're in 30 and trolls, only 21% of the times did the 160,000 wet but as we squeezed that row spacing again, it doubles 56% of the time did the 160,000 wet, all right? Now what about planting equipment? We didn't have, most of our trials are planted with planters. We didn't have a lot of drills or air seeders and we had actually more air seeders than we did drills. But if you're planting with the planter only 33% of the time did the 160,000 yield, but then when you squeeze those row spacings in and you plant with a planter, or I'm sorry with a drill or an air seeder, more of a controlled spill then that doubles almost the jump, the 50% of the time did the 160,000 yield. What about tillage? If we till the ground, the higher seeding rates one only 21% of the time, if we go to no till it jumps up to 50% of the time. Did the plant higher planting rates win? So, there's kind of a trend, there's kind of some management practices that are showing up. And the last one I'll talk about is planting date. - Mike, we have a question actually a couple of the same questions came in. How does the planting rate compare with the final stand? - That's a really good question. And we do take final stands in all of our data and we do publish that in our reports. And so please, Jim, I don't know, I can post the link maybe in at the end to how to get to our report but they're all listed there. But basically we track the mortality and it averages probably around a 23% stand reduction on average. So, you know, if we're dropping a hundred thousand, for example, then we would end up with, you know 77% or 77,000 seeds per acre or something like that. It's higher than what I would like to see, but it's what's commonly cited in the literature. So it's, we're losing about 23%, we've got as high as 26 and in 2015 with ideal planting conditions, our planting rates drop to, I think they were, gosh, they were unbelievably the mortality was really low, I think it was like 13 or 14% low, really, really low just really good conditions. But all of that information is published site by site. So you know, what the person dropped and what they ended up with. And that is really important. A matter of fact, our cooperators like that information as much as the yield data. They wanna know how did their final stands compare to what they set their planting equipment for? - Is that plant mortality rate consistent from the high seed rates to the lower seed rates? - Really good question, Jim, whoever asked that if that was yours, it's an excellent question because no, it's not, it's surprising, it actually even though it's a percent, it goes higher. The more seed we drop, we saw that in our trials pretty consistently, I would say out of the six years, we've drill it, done this, we've seen it for years. So I finally got fed up with looking at that trend and not understanding it. So I checked with some of my colleagues across the country and they wrote me back and said, yes, it's a very real trend that we're seeing in our data and there's a number of explanations for it. I thought it was maybe that we didn't think that we thought maybe that the planter wasn't planting as well as we thought it would. And that's might be part of it, but that's not all of it. The bigger reason is actually when we get in those higher planting rates, we actually get plant to plant mortality and I actually had one specialist tell me we got seed to seed mortality or seedling, the seedling mortality competition. And so that I think is what's happening is we're just getting more seed out there more than maybe what we really need and it's just not accounting and not amounting to productive plants but no really good question we actually see a lower percentage of mortality in our lower planting rates than we do our higher planting rate. - Thanks Mike. - Good, good, question. This last one is planting date and this is pretty concrete. We all know this, but this data really shows it too. If we plant into June, we're gonna have a need to have more seed out there than if we're planting before June. Now, this is a big one, we're going to get into fertility a little bit, I don't think I'm gonna cut into Kurt Steinke's talked too much because we talked a little bit and he's gonna focus more on corn, I believe. But we wanna manage our soil pH very carefully and the reason we need to do that is because pH affects three things. Nutrient availability, biological nitrogen fixation and soybean cyst nematode reproduction. So here's the one we all know about the wider those bars, the more available the nutrient. We come on down here and we start to see some of our micronutrients get tied up as the pH gets above 6.5, particularly manganese. This has manganese deficiency on a coarse textured soil, the only reason we have manganese deficiency on this out wash soil is we overlined it. Variable rate lime application would have prevented this problem. We put a little bit too much lime because this is such a sandy soil. There's no buffering capacity, no reserve acidity and it just, it just went to town and raise the pH well above 6.5. This is a slide from Craig Grau and Greg Tylka and basically what this shows the different years and it shows the relationship between soil pH and soybean cyst nematode populations. So we have three different pH ranges here, more of a low to moderate, a moderate, and then a high range. And you can see in all of these years, the SCN populations went up much higher as the pH got higher, some years worse than others, but very consistent trend. I know those of you in the thumb can't control your pH. I understand that you have calcareous subsoils and you have a high pH, so you just ignore this, there's nothing you can do about it, but the rest of us in the state that can manage our pH. Let's not get crazy, let's keep it around six to six five. Okay, don't apply nitrogen fertilizer. Can't say that enough, it will make your plants real showy and it will, you know, increase yield but very, very rarely does it increase income. This is probably an example of the strongest data that we have because we tried to mimic some data from Kansas State University, where they showed six out of eight trials, irrigated high yield trials showed a positive yield response to just 20 pounds of nitrogen put on it are three. We tried to duplicate that and we didn't see any differences whatsoever. Look at the kind of yields that we had with no supplemental nitrogen and then good yields here as well a little bit lower yields, but no difference in either one, in any of those trials. This is another trial up in the thumb in the same year 2011, this grower wanted to swing out 67 pounds of actual nitrogen and see what would happen and flat. This is another one, this is a liquid product that we put in foliar, it's an end demand product out of Wilbur-Ellis. It did give us 1.6 bushels advantage across all of our environments. It did increase yields, but by the time you pay for the product, it just wasn't well a product, an application just wasn't cost-effective. This is another one showing different rates of anhydrous all the way from zero 40 to a hundred pounds. Look at the yields, the zero gave us the highest yield that was not statistically different here than the 40 but we had to pay for those extra 40 units of that and didn't increase yield. Here we paid for an extra a hundred units earn and lost yield. So it didn't give us anything there, this is kind of an interesting one. This is a, we, you looked at a potassium persulfate two by two starter, and our original treatments were just gonna be these two, but the grower wanted to throw in a third treatment where he wanted to put 20 pounds of actual nitrogen as a starter and see what happened. And if you just look at these two treatments cause this is what's really with them without the starter and you see no difference whatsoever that nitrogen did not give us anything in addition to the KTS. Now the KTS did give us something over no starter, but the nitrogen did not. We look at pre-plant broadcast AMS. We looked at it for the sulfur but also for the nitrogen. And because down in Purdue they're showing some big benefits to looking at that. So we wanted to look at it and we had one site 3.8 bushels per acre was six statistically significant but the rest of them were not. And it just was not profitable for us in Michigan. Now this is kind of a one that we have a strong database. If you're putting fully or fertilizers on soybeans, it's really, the chances of it making you money are not very good. And I say that because we've just had 134 trials since 2009 in Michigan, 134 and only 11 of those did the foliar fertilizer earn more money than the untreated control 11 out of 134. So that's Michigan data. Manny Singh is participating with agronomists across the country in 14 states, in 2019, 2020, where they evaluated six common foliar fertilizers and an untreated control and out of 46 locations, only one of them showed any statistically significant differences and in that case, it was only three of the foliar fertilizers. So only one out of 46 sites and only three of the fertilizers were higher yielding than the untreated control. This is the one exception, if you've got manganese deficiency you do need to take care of that. If you don't take care of that you're gonna get hurt and you take care of it when the plants are actually smaller than this for the first time and with manganese sulfate, it's probably one pound if you're catching plants, when they're six inches tall, if they're more like 12 inches tall maybe two pounds would be warranted. You cannot take mix it with a glyphosate product but it is your cheapest most effective way of treating this as a foliar treatment. This person didn't do that, waited too long, now we're in the reproductive stages and we've lost significant yield potential. This is a much more advanced state. I would probably still come over the top with two pounds of manganese sulfate over the top of this just as a rescue treatment. We've lost yield, there's no question about it but it would be a rescue treatment. This is a huge one and maintain your critical soil test levels. If you don't do anything else that I've talked about this is a really, really big one for you. Lemme go back. I got a little trigger happy there. So, Kurt Steinke, our soil fertility specialist has worked with his colleagues in Ohio and Indiana and they've updated our tri-state recommendations. And one of the things that changed was the critical soil test levels. So, here's phosphorus and potassium, phosphorus and regardless of CDC, our critical level is 20 parts per million. The maintenance limit when you would actually get no recommendation for phosphorus is 40 parts per million. For potassium, we break it down by CDC, if you're at five or less, that critical level for potassium is a hundred parts per million and then that upper limit or the maintenance limit is 130 parts per million. So basically what that saying is anywhere in here is the sweet spot, that's where you wanna be. And if you're in there, we're gonna recommend just a crop removal rate of potash. So why is that important? Lemme show you. This is some data out of Ontario, Horse Bonner sent this to me, agronomist in Ontario, and so in a low P and K soil test site, low site, we applied no starter here and we got 51 bushels per acre. We applied to starter 90 to 180 pounds of a six 28, 28 and we get this really nice yield increase, you know, five bushels per acre. Okay, that looks pretty good. Now what happens if we're in more of a, at our critical soil test levels, just moderate soil test levels. They don't have to be above critical, but you should be at the critical point. Now, if we don't use any starter, we gained 58 bushels per acre. We're producing 58 bushels per acre without any additional fertilizer, we put the starter on, it doesn't make hardly any difference at all. So, the baseline residual fertility can really help you maintain higher yields then even the additional fertilizer can. I'll put them side by side and you can see how much that moderate soil test levels just by having our salt test levels, there are so much better than having low soil test levels. Even if we dumped the fertilizer on, we still gained three bushels per acre, by having the residual fertility there. It's really important to maintain your residual fertility. Seed treatment, they are mixed bag. You can do really well with them in certain situations and I'll talk about when those are. Certainly planting into fields that have a history of SDS, the iLeVO and Saltro will make you money. No question about it in those scenarios. When planting in April seed treatments are warranted, when trying to significantly reduce your planting rates, they are warranted, when planting into fields that have a history of poor drainage, yes, and a poor emergence you wanna use seed treatments but seed treatments are not a magic bullet for soybean cyst nematodes. There's other better management practices for that including crop rotation and resistant varieties. This is just our yield data from 31 sites of a base seed treatment and you can see, we really did hit some home runs up here. All the bolded numbers are statistically significant, all the other ones were just noise. We did have one yield loss down here, we think what happened is it changed the way the seed flowed and we had drastically underplanted. When we shake it all out, we get 1.4 bushels across all these sites and it's just above the break-even. So across all the sites, it was a break-even. This is a kind of controversial one and I just think it's probably gonna be a problem in the future, but it's not right now. We don't have a lot of foliar diseases in Michigan. We have septoria brown spot, we do have a frogeye leaf spot, but not to the extent to where the foliar fungicides would really give us a big yield kept not like down in Ohio and some other places. So unless you have a field that really warrants white mold, the plant growth foliar fungicides are kind of hit and miss. I'll show you that. This is just one, we looked at Miravis Neo this last year Miravis Neo and I really appreciate Syngenta sending us the product and we did have some nice yield increases here in Southwest Michigan, almost six bushels there, 3.1 there, 2.6 there but when we average them all together, it was, it did give us two bushels per acre but it wasn't economical based on our cost to production there. And I will tell you, I did use the 8000 acre custom application rate and we did use suggested retail prices for the products. So you can get that number down a little bit by spraying yourself and by maybe negotiating or quantity buying or buying early or something like that. Okay, so now, what happens if we put an insecticide in with the foliar fungicide, is that gonna improve the performance? We read about it that it does in some cases, so we looked at it in Michigan and we looked at it in 2017 to 2019. One thing I wanna point you to is look at these first three sites where we had statistically significant increases. They all say sand lake is the same producer, same producer use different products, he use the same product in 17 and 18, but in 19 he used a different product. And, but he still comes out ahead in all three of those years. You average it down and you get 1.6 across all of our locations. We need to have three bushels per acre to break-even again using custom application fees and suggested retail prices. You do wanna use a variety of tactics to manage white mold. It's a complicated disease. Fungicides are certainly one of those tools but they should not be one the only tool. You wanna use tolerant varieties, wide row spacings, you wanna reduce your planting rates, tillage decisions are important and basically after a white mold year, which you wanna do is you wanna leave those collusion the black rat droppings, right on the surface and hopefully no till wheat end to that and you will just burn those collusion right out the lawn. Germinating the wheat, they'll try to invest the wheat and they won't be able to. Irrigation timing is really important and hopefully those of you that irrigate know that but it's basically less frequent, maybe higher quantity irrigations. Nothing crazy, you don't wanna flood the plant but you just don't want those real frequent low volume irrigation applications. Fully or fungicides, make sure that you're choosing the most effective ones. There's four, hopefully everybody knows what they are but Aproach, Omega, Endura and Provost. Those are the four that MartIn Chilvers and his colleagues across the country rate as good or very good on white mold. You wanna time your application hopefully using the sport caster app. If you've not used that you just, in the app store for sport caster and you'll find it. It's a free app and it works very well. Equip and operate your sprayers to maintain good coverage and then contents or contains is a biological that has been effective for some growers. So if you want to visit about that in the future, I can talk to you about that. You wanna consider planting earlier maturing varieties. This will reduce your risk of these kinds of scenarios. We don't want that. It's gonna take a while for that field to come back from that. We don't wanna see that and I think planting an earlier variety would have made a big difference there. So here's our maturity zones in Michigan. These are basically conservative but I think they're accurate. I would say accurate, but conservative maturity zones. So, what we did, what I did is I took the MSU variety trials, I took the four highest yielding varieties in each maturity group in the central zone and then the top five highest yielding maturity groups or five varieties in each maternity group in the Southern zone and average those together. I did that because they didn't want individual yield of a single variety to bias the trial, to bias the results. So here we are in the central zone and here's the maturity groups here. Here's the average planting dates here, and then here's the zone average. And you can see, there's not really a big difference. There's kind of a sweet spot here in the middle but when we click on the next slide and you look at the zone average, you'll see there's kind of a sweet spot in maybe the one eight, maybe two, five, something like that. And the reason for that is there's a couple of sites where these later beans really did fall apart and will have yield in Allegan and in Sanilac. Now what happened in the Southern zone, in the Southern zone, we went all the way from 2.2s and at three of those sites, the early beans, just the opposite, the early beans fell apart by a big difference. Three to five bushels in Hillsdale, Lenawee and St.Joseph. So basically the take home message is if you're planting in that mid may, the late may time period, really varieties, maturity groups don't make that bigger difference as long as you're choosing the highest yielding varieties in their relative maturity groups. So, we wanna plant a range of maturity groups in Michigan and adapted ranges for the central zone. I would say as a one eight to two six in that Southern zone, a two four to three two. Last one that you wanna avoid is compaction. Do not end up, this is actually a different field than other one. It's I think I just hopefully have a good eye for these things, I hope there's not as many of these kinds of ruts out. And there is what I'm able to find. I might have a nose for them or something but it's not a good situation. That field is gonna take a while to yield. The last thing I wanna, may talk about is something that Christy Sprague does and it is just phenomenal. She does these commercial comparisons and I think it's one of our best kept secrets. It's just a really valuable tool. The companies tell Christie what they want or what herbicide programs they want her to compare. She compares them. She looks at the weed control, she looks at the income, she looks at the yield and she looks at crop injury. And on all of these programs and for GMO and non-GMO, and it's just, it's all available at that website and it is just a wealth of information. And it's surprising, the cost of the herbicides is really not the determining factor. But really more important is crop safety and a weed control. If you're getting really good weed control and you have good crop safety, you can afford to spend a little bit more on the program, is what their data shows. It's really interesting. Well, I put this slide up to show you at least on this one day, I didn't quit at five o'clock. I'm ready for any questions if there's any. - Mike, we have quite a few questions. I just couldn't bring myself to interrupt you very very much. Okay, these questions started up during the plant population segment. So it appears, this is from Joseph, it appears that we might benefit from higher populations in 15 inch rows even if we don't in 30 inch rows then he says planter versus planter question mark. - Yeah, I would say that that is true. In our trials, those fifteens versus thirties that percentage difference. Those were planters to planters comparisons. So, I would say that is true. What happens in 30 inch rows as we crowd them in the rows so much that you'll end up with runtz, you'll end up with, you'll have a few plants, I've done enough stand counts that you end up with, I just call them runtz, so they have one or two pods on them. They're just really spindly little things, so we just crowd them. So yeah, I think that is true. I wouldn't go crazy. The planting rates that I inherited from Kurt Steinke and Manny and I are working on these and that Kirstein concur failing is in 30 inch rows, Kurt was recommending 130,000 and in 15 inch rows, he was recommending 150,000. I think we can easily knock those down a little bit from there, but still there's, I think there's a relative benefit there. If you're gonna try to strike a compromise between the one population for both row spacings I'd say 130,000 would be that compromise. - Okay, next question from Jane, what type of soil were the trials performed in loamy, sand clay, et cetera. - I didn't have time to present that here but we do capture the CCS for all of our trials. We capture the background information, trying to figure out why or why we didn't see a difference or why one population performed better. So it's a whole range. Most half of our trials, though Jane, I will tell you were conducted in the thumb of Michigan. So that tells you they were late bed soils, very productive soils. I would say half of our trials are conducted in the thumb. - Okay, a question from Brad, I think this one was still relative to the plant populations. Are any of these trials spread out over whole fields or just selected strips? - We use planters and we use the farmer's equipment. So they are planted with the farmers planters. Some of ours are, you know, 40 feet wide, 60 feet wide in some cases, but no, 40 foot wide is pretty common for our strips and then we harvest with either a 40 foot head or 35 foot head and they are adjacent, all the strips are adjacent, but they're replicated four times at least if we have a two treatment trial the replicated six times. And so we can eat up a lot of field space in a hurry, so. - How long are your strips typically? - Typically the length of the rows in the field, you know, minus the headlands, so in a quarter mile, I'd say we're looking at 1260 or something like that. - So they go right across the field. - We do well all the way across. - Very good. Next question from Joseph. What's your opinion on starter versus no starter with regards to early biomass and row closure, et cetera. Even if it doesn't necessarily translate to yield. We typically think two by with mostly 28oo plus ATS, sometimes 28oo combined with 1034o at a 50 50. Course textured soils with low CAD ion exchange. - I liked the two-by-two placement first of all. I do like that for soybeans. It gives you a little separation from the seed, so I think that's a good move. We don't have a lot of data on that but I know Kurt Steinke, our fertility specialist is working on this and Kurt has actually seen some interesting benefits even beyond yield. It doesn't always pay for itself in yield but he sees a maturity benefit. He thinks the starter actually helps the beans dry down as much as a week earlier, you could even harvest a week earlier. If you're in normal planting rates, if you're in really low planting rates, he doesn't see it. But in normal planting rates, he thinks it does. So I just, one other quick plug, we are gonna be inviting growers to do two by two trials on their farms this year, they pick the product, they pick the rates, we design it and you'll get the answer to that question. So, yeah. - Okay, next question from Chris, I'm not sure if you were still on the nitrogen when this question came in but I think maybe so. How much fertilizer was applied for the previous crop? - We have that information from every one of our trials but I don't have it with me but I can get back with Chris on that. So we do have it, whether it was a foliar fertilizer trial or a nitrogen trial, we do have that baseline information. - Okay, from Joe, can you add magnesium sulfate in the starter? - Joe, I think you were looking at manganese sulfate is what I'm thinking and you can but so tied up in the soil. We really don't like to do that. It is just so tied up in the soil. We really think with manganese you need to really feed the plant. And so that's one of the few situations where foliar application is recommended. - Another question from Joseph, could you please comment more on manganese application timing? We normally apply manganese with glyphosate to compensate for the yellow wave. Does it pay to make a separate pass? - I really think it does. I really think it does and the reason is I think that yellow flash that we used to, you know, see with glyphosate is actually, it's a metabolite of the glyphosate. It's not necessarily true manganese deficiency. So that's the first thing that you have to discern. And so just to tank mix it with your every glyphosate application I don't think is going to give you a payback. First of all, do you see how the kind of soils that are susceptible to manganese deficiency? Are they dark colored stands, lake bed soils or those course out wash soils that are above 6.5 pH? If you have that situation, then yes, you do need manganese. But I think separating them is better try to catch the plants, since I don't like about the glyphosate is you're putting it on too late. You really wanna catch those plants when they're six inches tall. What I used to say is you don't wanna see any height difference between the yellow plants and the green plants. If you see yellow stunted plants and green normal looking plants, you've given up some yield. So your first application should go on like when you first see the yellowing but when there's no height difference. - Okay, Mike, a question from Dan. How about seed treatment for insects? For example, seed corn, maggots, grubs. - Yes, seed treatments, a systemic seed treatments can help you with being leaf beetle. It, that would be one thing to maybe consider. I know Manny Singh not Manny, Marty Childers has seen that he gets better results with their seed treatments if he has an insecticide included in with the fungicide. And there's not a really a good explanation other than just sort of a synergistic effect. Now seed corn maggots, I think you've gotta be really careful if you know you're planting into a situation with seed corn maggots you know, like a manured field or heavy green manured field something like that. I would be really careful. I wouldn't rely on the seed treatment to protect you a hundred percent. If you go on into that scenario, I've seen it fail. The one I saw fail was was Gaucho, actually in Allegan County, it was a dairy farm, lots of manure was applied and we did use a good seed treatment and we still had seen corn maggot. So, and I know how state has done some research on that showing that as well. - Thanks, Mike, Trevor's asking that, I've heard people talking about potash response in soybeans as related to application timing. Any studies related to that? - We did one years and years ago, well actually two. Linden Kelly helped us with one and irrigated coarse textured site and we had one in Monroe County in the same year and I'm trying to think in both neither case did we see a yield response. We applied the potash in the spring about two weeks before we planted did not see anything and the reason we didn't is because both sites were above that critical level, Trevor, the soil, the baseline soil test was high enough that we didn't need it. But I will tell you that there's also a double side to this Trever and this might've been where you were going, is there is some people that are concerned about a negative effect on soybean yield from the chloride salt effect on potassium chloride. I don't think it's that big of an issue but it is something that is kinda been talked about. So there is that. - Okay, thanks Mike. A lot of great questions and they keep coming. - Okay. - Jim was asking if you are second year soybeans is fungicide valuable? - I don't see a reason for it unless you really had a mold. If you had mold in the field that first year white mold, then yes you do need to be ready to spray for a white mold, the second year as well cause you generated those Sclerotia, they're gonna be right there. So that would be the most probable scenario. - Okay, Joseph asks if for Central Michigan that is Montcalm Mecosta County area, what would you consider reasonably early? Late April versus may one through 10? - I would say that probably that May, first week of May I think would be really a good target for Montcalm. You could go that last couple of days of April if you had absolutely perfect condition that last week of April, if you had really perfect soil conditions. I assume those are coarser textured soils up in that area. I'm familiar with Montcalm, but not so much Mecosta. - Okay, Sally asks, what difference in the plants do you see comparing higher population to lower population? - Oh yeah, we did see, it's night and day you see branching, you see just profuse branching in those low populations. I had one that looked like a picture, it looked like a menorah, basically I mean, it just had branches, it didn't have just one main stem, you had like six main stems, that was amazing plant. And so yes, you do get bushier plants, there's an inverse relationship between pods and a per plant and seeds per plant and planting rate. But the other thing you'll see, unfortunately, and Manny's doing some work with Tom Siler on this is that the lower planting rates that because you get more light going through the canopy, you will get some lower pods forming and you do have to pay attention to get those. So you're not just clipping them in half and getting them. So, you do get lower pod set. - Okay, Aaron has this question. You said you didn't see a profitable yield difference with the nitrogen application. What about supplemental micronutrients at planting like sulfur? - Yeah, we did actually. We'd looked at that potassium persurphate, and in of course, textured soil, we had that one that I showed today where there was like I can't remember what it was. It was a three bushel, 3.8 bushel or something. It was a nice increase to that potassium persulfate. So for 15 bucks you picked up another maybe a bushel or two bushels. So, that was one that showed promise. If you're thinking about sulfur, what I would think about is a coarse textured low organic matter soil. Sulfur resides in the organic matter and so if you very low, organic matter coarse textured soil that's where I think you're gonna see your kick. We saw another really nice kick, it was like four bushels per acre with a big farm in St.Joe County one year. And with that same product KTS, now I will tell you though the KTS is not to be applied on the seed. It's a hot product. It has to go two by two and I would not go more than three gallons per acre. That's what we tested. - Okay, question from John. How low can we adjust water pH when applying a weak acid herbicide like Roundup for best herbicide efficacy and not injure the soybean plant. - Oh boy, that one stumped me. I don't, I have no idea, I'm sorry. - Okay, let's move on. A question from Dan regarding two by two starter fertilizer placement, liquid versus dry fertilizer, is liquid limited in material options such as potash by comparison to dry. - Yes, it is. It's gonna be more expensive to get the liquid potash products. It is limited there but the good news is liquid is so much easier to handle and you just don't see much dry fertilizer on starter, on planters anymore. You do have much greater flexibility with the dry but it's just the good news, I was going to say the good news is Kurt Steinke, I just had a visit with him and he doesn't think that soybeans respond very much to potassium in the starter unless you had some really low soil test levels. If you're at those critical levels, you probably will not see a benefit to potash in your starter. - Okay, this one's a follow-up from John about the low water pH, lower pH would allow you to cut back on Roundup and help cut through the cuticle of the soybean plant. So we'll just thank you, John. From, John, if you apply a pre-merger and you get good results, will Roundup application later had yields. - I don't think so. If it's applied at the rates, at the timing at the crop height, that's on the label, I would think not. - Okay, from Jerry. What was the recommended maintenance level for K, the level at which applied K didn't result in higher yields? - Yes, so our baseline soil tasks would be those critical levels that I said that's what that was the level. So in that course textured soil, Linden would have had soil tests above right around a hundred parts per million. So when we put the fertilizer on and we put it on at 60 and 120 pounds of actual K20 is what we were shooting for. And we saw no response and we had zero as well. We saw no response because of that baseline soil test level was above the critical level of, I think for that soil type actually the baseline soil test would have been, you know, down lower than that. It would have been eighty something but his was above that and we didn't see a response. - Okay, now we're going back to the applying Roundup after a pre-emergent herbicide and Joe clarifies, if it's applied in the early stage. I don't know if that changes your response or not. - Well we know that R2 is the absolute cutoff for Roundup and I still stand by my previous comment of applying it in before R2 or at R2. I don't think we're gonna see a yield loss. - Very good. Lucas asks, what is your opinion of low salt fertilizers, seed applied with organic acids and low rates of UAN with low salt potassium fertilizer with boron in a two by two. And then he also adds a low salt phosphorus such as black label zinc in popup. - I think it's worth trying Lucas, but I and I really would encourage I don't have any data specifically on this mixture that you have, the tank mixture that you have but if it's working for you, what I would really encourage you to do, is to put in some replicated strips with us. So, if you could contact me or maybe send me your contact information, I would like to follow up with you cause that's one of the things we're doing really wanna focus on two by two starter this year. We wanna give producers the chance to put their recipe versus doing nothing. Basically turn the pump on and turn it off in six strips across the field. So I don't really have a good answer for you for yours, so I don't know. - Okay, got a couple more. Is there a yield drive with fully treated beans? - Treated or traded? Treated no, seed treatment should not have any yield drag with it. There was the, there's the halo effect with the levo but that is not really a yield drag. So no it was with treated seed I just don't see any downsides. We saw that one site had germinate, out of 31 sites we did lose 2.8 bushels, but that was, we think it was something maybe I don't wanna say a misapplication, but for some reason to see just that now feed through the drill, it just did and it was drastically under planted. - Okay, David asked, this fall we had soybean plant that was 10 feet away from other plants and had a total of 364 pods. Have you ever seen anything like this? - Not to that extent, no, but that same trend I have seen in it. It is remarkable what that plant will do. You know, it makes me wonder there was a yield contest winner, we all know him from Missouri. I'm not gonna say name because, but anyways he was a yield contest winner and he would not talk about it. He talk about a lot of things, but he would not answer the question about his planting rates and would not tell you what he was doing. I suspect that he was going on the low side and not the high side. I suspect he was just really getting some phenomenally you know, bushy plants that would just respond to lower planting rates. I don't know that, but that's my hypothesis. - Okay, from Dan, in general, any recommendations for pop-up inferral versus two by two started? - I personally liked the two by two because we can get a higher level of nutrients on there and soybean seed is very sensitive to salt injury as we all know, way more than what soybean seed is and or corn seed and having it in contact with the seed is risky. Having said that, we did find a product well, yeah, there was a product we tested from Wilbur-Ellis. It was a humic acid and a nutrient, a biological and it performed very well on some finer textured soils but we did experience yield loss on a coarse site. So I would be careful with near seed placement especially in coarser textured soils. - Okay, and the last question, Mike, el ultimo. - Okay. - Have you done any tests up North in the Manistee County area? - No, but we would like to, actually we would like to. Christina corral, I think that's a county that works in and she has offered to help us line up a couple of trials up in Northern Michigan. So, I think she was thinking the Reed city area but that's not too far, is it? Relatively speaking? - No, it's not so. Yeah, we would love to do that, so either contact Christina if you work with her already or they contact me please. - Mike you've answered 32 questions and done it very well. Thank you so much. - Well, thank you, Jim, thank you for the opportunity, everyone.

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