Georgia Extension offers 10 steps for high-yield, high-quality soybeans

Some are calling soybeans the “corn” of 2008, as prices continue to rise to new highs and growers clamor for the opportunity to make a profit.

In Georgia this year, it's expected that growers will expand their 2008 soybean plantings by 40 to 60 percent, according to University of Georgia Extension soybean specialist John Woodruff. “They have already increased small grains planting to about 500,000 acres and will likely plant at least half of the wheat ground to soybeans. Total 2008 Georgia soybean plantings are expected to be 350,000 to 375,000 acres,” he says.

In recognition of this increased interest in soybean production, the University of Georgia Extension Soybean Team has released the following “Ten Steps to Growing High-Yield, High-Quality Soybeans in Georgia:”

  1. Rotate land so that soybeans and other legumes are planted (on the same site) no more often than once every two years. If field has nematodes, plant an appropriate nematode-resistant soybean variety. Avoid deep sands or eroded clay soils.

  2. Soil test! Lime and fertilize for soybeans according to test results. Apply an inoculant specific for soybeans if soybeans have not been grown on this land in the last three years. Make sure soybean inoculant is fresh. Check the expiration date.

  3. For Coastal Plains soils, use deep tillage (12 to 14 inches) to get deep soybean rooting. For conservation-tillage, use strip-tillage and/or traffic control to reduce soil compaction.

  4. Use the following good cultural practices:

    a. Plant between May 10 and June 10.

    b. Plant tall growing and/or late-maturing varieties if planting after June 10.

    c. Plant in rows 10 to 36 inches wide.

    d. Plant about 145,000 seed per acre (about 10 seed per foot for 36-inch row spacing).

    e. Plant seed 1 to 1.25 inches deep in moist soil.

    f. Plant when soil temperature at 2 inches deep is between 70 degrees and 90 degrees F.

    g. If irrigating, apply water during vegetative growth, if leaf wilt appears by mid-day and during reproductive growth (R2-R5) to supplement rainfall so that soybeans receive 2.5 to 3 inches of water weekly.

  5. Plant recommended varieties for your location and planting situation (see recommended variety list in Georgia 2008 Soybean Production Guide). Plant varieties of different maturities to spread drought risks.

  6. Control weeds:

    a. In reduced-tillage production systems, do everything possible to obtain a weed-free seedbed at planting.

    b. Consider a soil-applied herbicide.

    c. Apply postemergence herbicides when weeds are 2 to 4 inches tall.

    d. Be on the lookout for glyphosate and ALS-resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed).

    e. See the 2008 Georgia Soybean Production Guide for more weed control information.

  7. Control insects:

    a. Scout fields weekly to monitor insect populations.

    b. If in the Georgia Coastal Plain, apply preventative velvetbean caterpillar control treatment (Dimilin plus boron) at or after full flower (R2).

    c. Treat for stinkbugs and other pod/foliage feeding insects as needed. (See 2008 Georgia Soybean Production Guide for details)

  8. Control Asian soybean rust and other foliage diseases:

    a. Scout fields bi-weekly prior to first bloom and weekly at first bloom and beyond to monitor for leaf diseases (Asian soybean rust, frogeye leaf spot, etc.).

    b. Pre-bloom, apply foliar fungicide if Asian soybean rust is detected in your fields or very close by (view University of Georgia soybean Web site for current rust status. Stay alert for local news).

    c. Post-bloom (R1-R6), apply foliar fungicide if Asian soybean rust is detected in your region or local area (e.g., in UGA/USDA sentinel plots). Specific choice of a fungicide will be determined in part by confirmed proximity of disease to a specific field.

  9. Harvest soon after maturity to reduce seed shatter and maintain quality.

    a. Adjust combine to match crop and field situation.

    b. Begin harvest soon after soybean seed have dried to 13-percent moisture or less.

  10. Use year-round marketing strategy:

    a. Know your production costs.

    b. Know that the best soybean market prices usually don't occur at harvest time.

    c. Forward contract (up to half of your expected yield to take advantage of favorable market prices).

    d. Use put or call options, if needed, to secure favorable prices.

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