With Ontario’s winter wheat crop marching quickly to maturity, many growers are asking whether summer 2016 is a good time to try their hand at double cropping soybeans.
In the first of a two-part Soybean School, Real Agriculture resident agronomist Peter Johnson and Syngenta agronomist Eric Richter, one of Canada’s leading experts on the double crop system, discuss what factors growers need to consider before taking the leap.
Richter says a number of industry developments over the past two decades now make double cropping possible in Ontario. At the top of the list are new, early varieties with yield punch. “As we push those varieties we don’t give up as much yield as we used to,” says Richter. “In terms of actual yield potential we’re dealing with half the growing season, but we’ve shown in our data that we can achieve 30 to 40 bushels with a relatively high success rate.”
According to Richter, double crop soybeans are a good bet to follow processing peas, which are typically harvested mid to late June. Planting into winter barley stubble as well as after winter wheat in areas with 2900 heat units or more are also good options.
Johnson wonders whether growers who plant double crop soybeans could be compromising soil health by increasing the intensity of the crop cycle. Richter cautions growers should never put double cropping ahead of soil health and the sustainability of their farm.
Richter says growers who have 4% organic matter or more have likely been doing a good job with soil health and rotation and should consider double cropping. “If they are below 3% – in that 2.8% to 2.5% level – I would say they have to work on their organic matter strategy and soil health. Let’s do that with cover crops and leave the double crop soybeans to someone else.”
Johnson and Richter agree that even on sandy, low organic matter soils, double crop soybeans is a better strategy than leaving a field with no crop growing at all during the summer months. “Please plant something after winter wheat or barley,” urges Richter.
Look for Part Two of the series when Johnson and Richer review the five key factors for double crop soybean success.
Click here for more Soybean School episodes.