In many areas, combines are finally parked in the shed, signaling another year in the books for soybean production. With harvest fresh in mind, now is the time to evaluate crop performance before selecting next year's soybean varieties.
The 2018 crop offers farmers insight into what worked in a very topsy-turvy season. From good planting weather to drought to excessive rains at harvest, this year's soybean crop was stressed. "Extreme changes in weather is the condition we are growing in now," says BASF agronomist Marshall Beatty. However, while farmers cannot plan for Mother Nature, they can create a strategy for dealing with controllable factors through proper seed selection.
Know your problems
One of the biggest issues in Missouri is glyphosate-resistant weeds. "Our farmers are really challenged to control horseweed, palmer amaranth and waterhemp," Beatty says. Spraying glyphosate has been a common practice for this type of weed control, however continued use creates a resistance problem, he adds.
Beatty says farmers are finding success with LibertyLink and Credenz soybeans because they allow for the spraying of glufosinate to control those same weeds. Some glufosinate products include Liberty, Cheetah, and Interline. They all have similar loading, rates and labels.
Beatty says one benefit to choosing soybean varieties such as LibertyLink GT27 is that it's "neighbor-friendly." With dicamba drift continuing to garner headlines and raise concerns across the Midwest, Beatty says farmers can plant LibertyLink soybeans with peace of mind.
"There is no stress to growers with issues of dicamba spraying and off-target movement," he says.
Soybean varieties can help solve field problems, but they must also handle environmental stressors such as weather. Beatty says farmers should know soil type and location, and how it handles extreme weather conditions. Heavier soils hold more water. Sandy soils dry out in drought. Understanding soils can help determine which variety will perform best in a weather event. "Plan for the worst," he says. "Hope for the best."
But with so many soybean varieties on the market, how do farmers narrow down their choices?
Do your homework
Farmers need to be part researcher when making purchases for the 2019 soybean growing season.
Beatty recommends looking at university trials. "Land grant universities are a great place to start," he says. Analyze their plot data to see which varieties topped or performed well by region. Also, look at more than one year's worth of data.
Visit the local coffee shop for more than just coffee. "Talk to other growers," he says. Farmers are a great resource for how soybean varieties performed.
However, don't choose the top variety in the plot or a neighbor's field and put it on all acres. "Take a few of the suggestions and try them out on a portion of your acres," Beatty adds. "See how it works on your ground, under your management. If it looks successful after one year, expand to more acres."
He says one trait farmers may want to try in 2019 is LibertyLink GT27. The new trait stack is the first to market combining tolerance to Liberty or glufosinate-ammonium, glyphosate, and a new HPPD mode of action herbicide for soybeans, pending EPA approval. "It is just bringing a new mode of action to bear," Beatty says. "This is going to be a great addition moving forward in the next two to four years. It is easy to use and farmer-friendly."
Beatty says companies such as BASF consider themselves partners with growers.
"Soybean growers are faced with a lot of challenges," he says. "We want to work with growers to provide the best weed management practices and best varieties for farmers to be successful in their fields."
Farmers should take time to visit with their local agronomist to learn more about the 2019 soybean varieties offered in their region.