Should you plant soybeans first? Part 2 with Corey Evans

Apr 03, 2019

Should you plant soybeans first? Part 2 with Corey Evans

Stefanie W: Welcome to another episode of Planting Profits with Jesse Wiant, and this is part two with Corey Evans from WinField United.

Jesse Wiant: Thanks Stef. So let's just jump right in, so you're not going to listen to part two without part one, so everybody will know who you are. So again, Corey Evans here with us part one of this episode podcast series, we talked mainly on corn. This time, it's all going to be about soybeans. So let's roll right into it. Last year, the soybean size, they were huge, like there wasn't very many seeds per pound in some of these varieties, does that effect emergence?

Corey Evans:  It makes you think when you're picking up a mini bulk that has half the units that you expect in it, from the year before. Observations the last five, six years, as long as you're getting them consistently planted at the same depth, we don't see a big change in germination. A lot of the seed size is influenced by genetics and then by growing season the year before. So really it's just a showcase of the year we had and probably the high yields we had from the year before. And I could speculate, I don't have a lot of data to back this up, but to me I like a larger soybean size as long as we get it off the ground just fine. I think there's something to do with the genetics and growth rate that has some influence on final yield and personally I just rather have a larger soybean seed than a smaller soybean seed.

Jesse Wiant: So earlier you were talking about Croplan 1665 Liberty bean that is a very high yielding bean, those are dramatically big, right? I mean like just say when your typical mini bulk is 40 units and we got some last year that were 20 units because of weight wise they had to be. So like you say, plant-ability I think is the first thing. If you can plan them, I guess personally I haven't seen an emergence difference, but what about vigor? I don't think that's really something that we talked much about in soybeans, like the seedling vigor, whatever you want to call it. But do you think there's a correlation there? You talked about more energy packed in that seed in corn, with the bigger seed. What about in beans?

Corey Evans: That's a really good question, Jesse, and a really, really tough one. So if you look at a Croplan seed guide today, we have an emergence scores on our soybean varieties and if you were going to choose a variety based on that, I don't know how that would make a final difference in yield. Really, when I think of it, we get focused on how well our beans look the first two, three, four, five weeks after growth. What I'm really focused on is R1 and what percent of canopy cover do I have. If I can have greater than 90% as I'm going through R1 or R2 of leaf area index or total canopy closure, that's what I'm really focused on. Because you can have a great stand up and out of the ground. You can have even emergence, good germination, but if you're not maximizing your canopy level at R1, R2, R3 and the really critical phase of soybean yield, then I'm not so much worried about what happened on the first two, three weeks of the season.

Jesse Wiant: Okay. So what about using a soybean seed treatment? The old standby is anytime you use one you increase the germ percentage on whatever that variety is. Using a product like Warden CX for example, how does that actually increase your germ? What's happening or what are you doing to actually increase that?

Corey Evans: If you think back to the fall we had last year with just some of the challenges that we had of getting our own soybean crop out in our part of the world. Think of the challenges we had as a soybean production company. So if you were trying to grow soybean seed to be used this year and you were in northern Iowa, you could just look on Twitter or Facebook and see all these pictures of beans still standing late in the season. Rainfall after rainfall after rainfall and that really reduced our quality of germination. So this year across the industry we saw standard decrease in our percent germination rate. So usually we have a 90% germination rate. A lot of companies went down to an 85% or even lower because just the seed quality concerns we had from last fall. Now doing a little data in our River Falls Innovation Center, we found by putting Warden CX versus an untreated seed, we saw our warm germination test raised by about 4% and our cold germinations percentage raised by about 25%. That was really influenced by the fungicide that gets used on Warden CX, when we have some of our fungal pathogens like phomopsis that impacts your actual seed quality and seed germination. So by protecting that with the fungicide, we could overcome some of those tough germination rates.

Jesse Wiant: Alright, here it comes the million dollar question, Corey. There's been talk over the years I guess, of planting soybeans ahead of corn to maximize light, I don’t know if light interception is the right word to use there, but maximize your photosynthetic timeframe. What do you think?

Corey Evans: Well, Jesse, I'm pretty sure in the last podcast you said that soybeans are kind of our forgotten child, right? And we spend all of our time on corn. A lot of that is influenced because everybody likes combining corn, combining beans, maybe is just not as much fun. If you surveyed a crowd of growers in the last three or four years, it is really interesting to see how many more people are focusing on soybean planting date. Maybe they're not planting before corn, but they're trying to either plant at the same time with another planter or they're putting the emphasis on to switch over really fast and get the beans planted as soon as they're done with corn. Now, if we're in a corn focused world, it's really hard to have the conversation of maybe you should plant your beans first. A lot of the early challenges with that is that we didn't think that soybeans could withstand any kind of stress early, whether that'd be cold, whether that be early crusting challenges. So we have to overcome that first, but the theory is if you plant earlier, you can often get to R1 on or before summer solstice and that would allow that soybean plant to go through the reproductive phases where we're really focused on actually building grain yield and that would occur during the summer with more effective photo-period length. So capturing longer days earlier in the year versus hitting reproductive phase in July, early July if we plant late and not having as much effective sunlight as those later planted products go through maturity later in the season with less sunlight available.

Jesse Wiant: So I think something that we saw last year, like you say, maybe switching that planner over, there were instances where guys were out planting corn and ran out of acres that were dry enough to plant corn, but they had all these bean acres. What we saw locally I guess, was the growers that were willing to switch to the planner over, I know it takes some time and maybe its pain to do it, but we were actually able to push those bean yields. The prereq on that, they were seed treated. So we had something like Warden CX down on those early planted beans, but we were actually able to, whether it was five to eight bushels, I mean, five day bushels means everything right now bushels are paying the bills. And like you say, I think last year we actually saw that the earlier planted beans got to reproductive time earlier. When a soybeans living day to day, more sunlight that thing can capture. I mean I think that's what contributed to our yield increase. So I think there is something to planting beans early, but like you say, I think it's almost in our heads, right? That corns got to go into ground first. It's like say it's it's more fun to combine for sure. So I would say if it's a possibility to plant at the same time or if you have those situations going into 2019 where some fields are ready for corn, some aren't, but you've got some bean fields that are ready, go plant them, switch that planter over take advantage of the weather and the situation and get those beans in.

Corey Evans:  University data would probably say April, end of April, early May, half a bushel per acre per day as your potential loss by pushing planting dates later. I think the challenge we have in Minnesota is our bean ground of course is going on ground that was corn last year. So we have little more residue to worry about. You have maybe a tougher seed bed to manage and cooler temperatures. So there's a few implications of that, I still think that you hit it on the head. There is a slight penalty as we push later and later. Now does it pay for a brand new planter to go out with a brand new tractor and find somebody to run it, maybe it's not that economical, but definitely if you're trying to push the envelope on soybean yield, I think getting them planted earlier is part of the key.

Jesse Wiant: So IDC and white mold are probably two of our largest issues or concerns in this area. Obviously some varieties are rated well on one but maybe not the other. With the large area that you cover, are there any other ways that we can, manage around the IDC or the white mold areas?

Corey Evans:  Now, I'm a seed guy, so I'm kind of bias. So I still think the number one priority of getting those problems, challenges right, is choosing the right genetics. Now, once you choose the right bean for the right acre, I think the next phase is looking at population. I think that's also part of the management strategy. So on white mold you could potentially look at chemical mitigation, whether you try to use fungicide, whether it using contans. The third step on your soybean white mold strategy, after you choose the right genetics after maybe you look at implementing a crop protection idea. The third step is population. Now we know if we can pinpoint an area that's continually getting hit up with white mold, there's an opportunity to reduce population, open up that canopy a little bit and reduce some of the infection points from continual moisture. On IDC, it's a little different. Still think you have to choose the right bean for the right acre, but you could look at putting in an in furrow kelated iron product that's going to provide more available iron early to that plant. Then the same third step in my mind is looking at population. So instead of dropping population like we would on white mold, we'd want to do the exact opposite for IDC areas. We want to push that up to a 180,000 - 190,000 - 200,000, whatever you feel comfortable enough with that gets those soybean plants and the roots more specifically closer together until they can interact with each other and the exudates that they send out, the signals to really transfer the iron to a usable form gets closer together and you can see a greening effect when you put a highly tolerant soybean closer together at the higher population.

Jesse Wiant: So Corey, thanks again for coming in. It's nice to get some perspective on what we're dealing with locally in corn and beans specifically around seed sizes and just maybe that early emergence or seedling vigor scores and then how to manage around things that we can't control, like maybe white mold or IDC in soybeans. So again, appreciate your time. it's been very beneficial. I got one last question to ask you though. You Ready?

Corey Evans:  I'm ready.

Jesse Wiant:  Okay. So if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? And then would you go alone or would you go with somebody?

Corey Evans: You know, you asked me nine questions prior to that where I had some reasonable explanation and a pretty good answer in the back of my mind, you kind of stumped me with this one. If you were gonna force me to make a choice, honestly, I think I'd go to Wales. Of all places I could go, I'd go to Wales. But there's a good reason behind it. My grandpa was a hundred percent Welsh and our Evan's last name has some pretty unique history and some unique personalities. And I think it'd be fun just to go back to where it all started and how his relatives grew up and how that translated into the people we are today. And if I had to choose someone, of course I'd have to take my wife. But if she couldn't make it because she was working, I'd probably take my dad because I think he'd enjoy the same experiences of understanding our last name and everything that goes into it.

Jesse Wiant:  Cool. Well, thanks again Corey. Appreciate it.

Corey Evans: Thanks, Jesse.

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