When your April issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer arrives in the mailbox, look for a special feature in the Crops section. It's the first in a continuing series written by Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension agronomist and soybean specialist. The series will be called 'Soybean Success,' and builds upon the series started a year ago, called soybean basics. This new feature will appear monthly, and is written by Casteel.
"I just want to get more exposure for soybeans and the practices it takes to grow good yields," he says. "We will try to pass along timely tips and make it interesting at the same time."
In the first article, Casteel makes this key point. Avoid the 'it was working good when I put it up last year' syndrome, and do some calibrations with your soybean drill or planter before you head to the field. Even if you've already replaced worn disks and bearings, you may not have replaced the parts that actually control the rate at which soybeans are planted.
According to Casteel, there can be up to 25,000 more seeds planted after a season's worth of wear with certain equipment. At today's prices for seed, that's costly, especially when Casteel is urging farmers to plant less instead of more. He's a proponent of a 140,000 seeds per acre seeding rate if that's what it takes you to get a final stand of 110,000- to 120,000 plants per acre.
Thicker isn't always better. Most farmers who opt for variable rate seeding on soybeans in fields with variable types of soils say they put the highest rates on the lightest, poorest ground, and lower rates on the heavier, more productive ground. Otherwise, they note that they usually see too much lodging and disease potential with most varieties if they are planted at too high a rate on very productive ground.
Look for Casteel's first article when the magazine hits your mailbox.