Wheat harvest is underway in Ontario and many cash crop farmers are wondering whether they should plant those acres to soybeans and take advantage of double cropping.
Double crop soybeans are always an opportunity for many growers, says AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan, but it’s important to understand the risks. In 2021, he notes that double crop bean yields ranged from 30 to 70 bushels per acre for many growers in the southwestern part of the province but good management and a little luck is required to be victorious at the harvest finish line.
“The first thing you have to do is get the wheat harvested as quickly as you can. That might mean harvesting at 20 per cent moisture just to get it out of the way,” says Cowan. Effective residue management behind the combine is also crucial.
On this episode of the RealAgriculture Soybean School, Cowan shares a management checklist for growers to consider when double cropping soybeans. At the top of the list is a July 15 deadline to plant the crop. After that, the soybeans may run out of growing season and not reach maturity. (Story continues after the video.)
Moisture is also a key. Cowan likes to see moisture available in the top two inches of soil at planting. Some growers will plant deeper to reach moisture, but that increases risk.
When it comes to seed population, research consistently shows that higher seeding rates produce higher-yielding crops. Seeding at 280,000 to 300,000 seeds per acre is typical. “You just need more plants than you do when you plant normally in the spring,” says Cowan.
Narrow rows are a must. Planting 7.5-inch rows creates a fast-closing canopy that intercepts as much sunlight as possible and produces beans at a rapid pace. Weed control and variety selection are also keys to success. Cowan recommends growers take a close look at the seed maturity groups they plant. “If you are a grower who typically grows 2.3 or 2.5 soybeans, it makes sense to drop the maturity by .2 or .5 to give the crop a better opportunity to finish.”
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