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Moving the soybean starting line

Kansas soybean farmers are inching their planting dates earlier and earlier.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

April 10, 2024

2 Min Read
Soybean sapling in early spring
READY, SET, GO!: Kansas soybean farmers may be considering inching their planting dates earlier to capture yields, K-State experts say. jxfzsy/Getty Images

In recent years, Kansas farmers have started a trend of earlier planting dates, according to K-State experts. Moving the starting line for soybeans ahead of corn, in some cases, might work, but only if farmers keep a few things in mind, the experts say.

Ignacio Ciampitti, associate professor and integrated farming systems agronomist in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University, leads the Ciampitti Lab on campus.

His team reported in the March 28 “Agronomy eUpdate” that farmers are reporting they plan to plant soybeans earlier than usual in 2024. Last year, the 50% planted mark, reported by USDA-NASS, was reached about May 21 statewide, with planting progress moving closer to mid-May with optimal conditions.

“For Kansas, maximum soybean yield is reduced by 0.3 bu/a per day as planting dates get later in the season, with yield levels closer to 80-90 bu/a when planting in mid-April compared to 50 bu/a for planting in mid-July,” Ciampitti wrote.

The team cautions that colder soil temperatures, however, could slow soybean emergence, and that could lead to less uniform soybean fields.

“In addition, dry conditions in many areas of the state can further delay overall emergence and early-season uniformity,” Ciampitti wrote.

Recent research shows that early-season plant-to-plant uniformity could compromise yields, especially in low-yield environments, to the tune of about 35 bushels per acre.

To ensure success, the team reminds farmers:

  • If planting soybeans before corn, treat the seed with a fungicide and insecticide. Select for resistance to soybean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome. Don’t plant in soils that are too wet, and resist planting until the soils reach 60 degrees or risk slow emerging seedlings with poor vigor.

  • Drier areas of Kansas on shallow soils see the most consistent yields with late May to early June planting dates. This puts the soybeans at bloom and seed fill in August to early September, with cooler nights and the worst of heat and drought stress over.

  • Remember, weather patterns, especially under dryland conditions, will dictate yield. Ciampitti’s team says the distribution and amount of rainfall, and the day and nighttime temperature variations around flowering and grain fill, have the largest impact on soybean yield. So, if there’s a higher risk of drought stress during the growing season, farmers might consider diversifying their planting dates.

Read more at eupdate.agronomy.ksu.edu/article_new/soybean-planting-date-and-maturity-group-selection-585-6.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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