Thursday, June 7, 2012

Picket Fence Soybeans

I was admiring Gerald Kodde's stand of soybeans one day last week.  Gerald plants with a Kinze unit planter in 15" rows and the stand was gorgeous.

If there is such a thing as picket fence soybeans, Gerald has it.

Earlier in the week I attended the OMAFRA breakfast meeting for crop consultants in Exeter.  These meetings have been taking place during the spring since the late 80's.  Every year in early June as regular as clockwork there is much moaning and groaning about soybean emergence.  The finger of blame is always pointed at  "that blankety-blank controlled spill device" otherwise known as a seed drill. 
Did you know that the seed drill was first introduced to the New England colonies in the early 1700's by a fellow named Jethro Tull?  And you always thought Jethro Tull was just a 1970's classic rock band.

The picture above is the result of inconsistent seed depth placement and is what you see in many drilled soybean fields.  This drives agronomists nuts and I will admit to being there and done that.  Why would we put up with a stand that looks like this?  One would think based on this evidence farmers would  quickly convert to a planter like Gerald's on every acre of soybeans.  But agronomist opinion and fact do not always agree. 

OMAFRA's soybean specialist, "bout a bushel" Horst Bohner puts it in perspective.  Based on his work in the field, this inconsistent seed depth and emergence does not have much yield impact.  This is totally opposite to corn where we know consistent seed depth and emergence is a key to high yields.  With soybeans though, as long as the final population is over 100,000 plants per acre in 15" rows it really doesn't matter how they are spaced.  That beautiful unit planter job contributes "bout a bushel" to final yield over drilled beans.  This is because the soybean flowers and sets seed over a 4-6 week period.  The weather during this long period in July and August, compensates for our planting mistakes. 

So I can look forward to the OMAFRA meetings next June and listening to agronomists moan and groan again about a technology that is 300 years old.  At least I can listen to Jethro Tull on the way home.

I still really like Gerald's soybeans.

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