Weighing the pros and cons ahead of soybean planting decisions

Should I or shouldn’t I plant soybeans this spring?

This is a question on the minds of many farmers as we head into spring of 2019. For a few years, it looked like soybeans were going to take over many acres across the southern Prairies, but a couple of bad years for soybeans have caused a lot of farmers to reconsider their dedication to the crop.

Glenda Clezy, grow team advisor with Federated Co-operatives Limited, has also heard that some farmers are cutting back on acres. “A lot of that (cut back) is likely due to the dry conditions that we’ve had over the last couple of years,” she says

It might be helpful to understand how and why dryness affects soybeans. “They definitely like moisture, but at the right time. Like other crops they like moisture at seed fill, and because soybeans are a later maturing crop, that tends to happen later in the season for us. late July and into August is when ideally soybeans like to get moisture,” says Clezy. August rainfall just isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of in recent years.

Before you make the final decision to cut soybeans out of the rotation completely, it might be important to think about why they had so much potential to begin with. Rotations are getting pushed and we know canola/wheat/canola is just asking for trouble. Clubroot is on the rise, and having a nitrogen fixing crop in the rotation can certainly reduce some costs.

And then there is aphanomyces root rot. “The other thing that we are also facing with other pulse crops or nitrogen fixing crops is aphanomyces impacting some areas for peas and lentils. Soybean is a non-host for aphanomyces,” says Clezy.

Farming is a business and farmers need to base their decisions on sound business considerations. It is important though, not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath-water,’ so to speak. Taking a good hard look at your soybean acres is probably a good idea, but make sure the pros are considered as well as the cons.

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