Mark Lawson is a technical rep for Syngenta, but he also farms. He recently did some scouting of no-till fields and noticed several signs of the season. Most of them related to no-tilling into soils that were still too wet for the slot to close properly.
"Patience is a virtue when it comes to no-till," he says. "I've seen slots not closed and soybeans breaking their necks trying to get through ground once it dried up and became hard."
So it wasn't a good year to plant wet. The problem is that from Lawson's area near Danville all the way south in Indiana, except perhaps for a couple days in east-central Indiana, consistent rains every three to four days have made getting the crop into the ground a challenge. Some people planted on May 15 into soils that they would have pulled out of on April 15. Who could blame them?
Actually that refrain was heard quite a bit when farmers gathered at dealerships or wherever their paths crossed, and on Facebook and Twitter. The gist of most of the messages was that the soil was borderline, but it was May 15 or May 20, not April 15 or April 20, so they were going to plant anyway.
The result may be less than perfect stands, according to Lawson's early scouting reports, at least in some no-till fields. However, if you pay attention to Shaun Casteel's recommendations and previous Purdue Extension research, you don't need more than 80,000 plants per acre to achieve nearly 100% potential of soybean yield. Casteel is the Purdue Extension soybean specialist.
"Stands are going to look thin, but they could still be more productive than you think," says Larry Huffmeyer, another Syngenta rep and farmer in Ripley County. The problem will be convincing the younger generation, and maybe older landowners on share leases, that there are enough beans out there.