When is it safe to roll soybeans?


A Tuesday morning poll of Ontario agronomists, extension specialists, and crop retail representatives based in the southwestern region of the province indicates about two-thirds of the provincial soybean crop has been planted as of May 23.

“That’s pretty awesome,” says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soybean specialist Horst Bohner, adding that the speed and capacity growers now have to plant the Ontario corn and soybean crop is “astounding.”

Planting proceeded last week at a torrid pace until rain on Friday and Saturday forced most growers to park their planters. With the stoppage, many growers missed an opportunity to roll worked ground after soybean planting.

Bohner has been fielding questions from growers seeking advice on whether it’s safe to roll the crop when they can get back into the field.

“I think the clear answer is that you should not roll beans when they’re trying to break through the surface right as they’re pushing through and knuckling because you can break off that hypocotyl,” Bohner says. “And if you’re to that stage, then you really should wait for them to be at least at the unifoliate where they are softer, or even the first trifoliate.”

Bohner has put the rolling question to the test in field trials.

“We’ve gone as late as the second trifoliate and had no yield reductions at all from a smooth roller on a hot afternoon,” Bohner notes. He thinks growers should pay more attention to the weather and how fast the beans are growing when making the rolling decision.

“I think it really depends on how warm it is and how fast they’re pushing. Beans can push pretty quick if it’s 25 degrees.” Overall, rolling two or three days after planting is completely fine, he adds.

Bohner has also conducted research on rolling soybeans to induce a response that will cause the soybean plant to become more bushy and produce more nodes. There’s also potential for higher yields. In the trials, soybeans showed a two-bushel yield response when beans were rolled first trifoliate. At later periods, yield response declined and yield was actually lost when the plants were rolled at third trifoliate. Check out the full report:

See: Soybean School: Stick to first or second trifoliate when rolling soybeans


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