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Mark Licht

Mark Licht, Assistant Professor and an Extension Cropping System Specialist at Iowa State University (ISU), encouraged farmers to put together a group of management practices when planting soybeans.

AMES | Mark Licht, Assistant Professor and Extension Cropping System Specialist at Iowa State University recently addressed some of the current issues surrounding soybean production in northern Iowa.

Iowa posted a record yield for soybeans in 2016, Licht said, averaging a yield of 60 bushels per acre. 

In 2017, the average yield dropped to 56.5 bushels per acre and 2018’s projected yield is 59 bushels per acre for the state, and 62 bushels per acre for the northeast reporting district.

Licht said he believes the recent rains might cause some lodging, which could adversely affect yields.

He added, with later planting, soybean plant growth can also be shortened, which can create harvesting issues, depending on where the first nod of pods are set. “Even if pods are set closer to the ground the newer flex heads on combines are better than the old heads at harvesting low pods,” Licht said. “Still there can be issues with large rocks when harvesting too close to the ground.”

Licht said another concern for soybean producers is Sudden Death Syndrome, which is believed to be linked to genetics. “Certain genetics are more conducive to Sudden Death than others,” He said. “Before seed treatment we looked at genetics to determine if a soybean variety had the ability to tolerate Sudden Death Syndrome. Now we have the seed treatment Ilevo, which is effective in controlling Sudden Death Syndrome.”

Licht cautioned farmers when ordering soybean seed for the 2019 crop year they need to determine if this treatment comes directly with the seed beans or if it has to be applied at the point of sale.

Regarding soybean production, Licht said, “What we researchers have been looking at is climate and soil. Some of the factors that affect higher yields were applications of insecticides and fungicides, tillage and drainage.

“In farmer-related data from north central Iowa, with soybeans planted prior to May 20, it was found where foliar fungicide was applied, the soybeans yielded 66 bushels per acre, as compared to 61.5 bushels per acre for soybeans, where no fungicide was applied.”

Still Licht cautioned, “We need to integrate the use of fungicides and pesticides, and only use them when we need them. Higher yields are not always more profitable.”

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