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The Great Replant Caper

The Great Replant Caper
Think three times before you replant!

The year doesn't matter. It was a while back. My late father still farmed and we helped him. We had a field of soybeans that bordered a heavily traveled road, and a potential landlord for the future lived right across the road. One wet spot of a couple of acres didn't come up very well planted the first time around May 20.

OK, so we decided to replant that part. It was planted with a planter the first time, but we used a conventional drill the second time. Now it's the first week of June. It rained hard the next day. Back then, conventional tillage was in vogue, and Gary Steinhardt, the Purdue Extension specialist, had yet to convince farmers that the new rotation of corn and soybeans and working ground wet, common in the 60's and 70's, had produced an excellent foundation for soil compaction, especially on light-colored, somewhat poorly drained soils, like the two-acre spot we were battling.

So the beans didn't come up very good this time either. By now it's June15. Should we go for a third try, just to get something decent looking there? The rest of the field looked pretty good. So we planted one more time.

You guessed it. Two days later it rained two inches again. The soil crusted and we ended up with a stand than was no better than the one we had after planting May 20. We invested three times the seed, although it wasn't $50 an acre back them, time and fuel, all for nothing.

In fact, it didn't yield as well as the rest of the field. And the Purdue Corn and Soybean Field Guide, with a chart based on averages, would indicate as much. Planting June 10-15 vs. May 10 alone drops yield potential 20% in an average year. Even at $6 per bushel at the time, a 5 bushel loss, which is about how it turned out, meant $30 less income on those acres, plus all the extra expense of planting three times. Needless to say, the extra disking and fieldwork did nothing to help the soil compaction problem we didn't know we had yet.

The morale of the story is you may not be happy with the stand you have in certain fields. There are cases where tearing them up may pay. But there's also no guarantee that just because you replant, you will get a stand that is any better the next time. And the odds favor less yield potential, simply because the calendar has moved forward. Decision-making gets tricky this time of ear.

TAGS: Soybeans
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