Soybean School: Planting no-till soys after a BIG corn crop

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What impact do higher-yielding corn crops have on no-till soybeans?

That’s a question many growers are asking as they prepare to plant no-till soybeans into high levels of corn residue that can keep soil cooler in spring, impact emergence and reduce stands. Growers also have to contend with soil compaction caused by difficult harvest conditions that can hinder soybean growth.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Soybean School, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soil management specialist Jake Munroe joins host Bernard Tobin to share his take on how big corn crops affect no-till soybeans.

In 2022, Munroe followed a series of no-till soybean fields to determine how a record 2021 Ontario corn yield, and a wet, difficult harvest season that produced significant soil compaction, impacted the following soybean crop.

In the video, Munroe shares how he monitored five fields in southwestern Ontario, spanning three counties – Huron, Wellington and Brant. Each field had been under a reduced tillage system across the full rotation for seven years or more. (Story continues after the video.)

Munroe says the different fields demonstrate how no-till soybeans can provide competitive yields and returns. “They can also pose some management challenges, especially when it comes to establishing a strong stand.”

Three of the five soybean fields had final stands of 100,000 plants per acre or below. “Along with concerns around poor seed quality in 2022, it was clear that corn residue was responsible for issues with stand establishment across most fields. Corn headers that left more of the stalk intact in the row appeared to cause fewer seeding challenges,” says Munroe.

Overall, the no-till fields produced strong yields, ranging from 50 to 72 bu/ac, with an average 61.2 bu/ac. Munroe also crunched some numbers and looked at the economics of the 72 bu/ac field. Based on inputs and market conditions (assuming a soybean price of $16/bu) the field provided a gross margin (revenue – operating expenses) of $800 per acre. Check out the full report on Field Crop News.

Munro wraps up the interview with his overall observations and key takeaways for growers. These include:

  • Seed soybeans at a higher rate (10 to 20 per cent) to ensure an adequate stand under high residue conditions;
  • Consider seeding soybeans with a planter instead of a drill, especially when a chopping corn head is used;
  • Soybeans generally compensated for marginal stands with branching; they canopied in the first half of July and flourished in August.

Click here for more Soybean School videos.

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