Field Crops Webinar Series - Improving Crop Production Income

March 18, 2019

Mike Staton, MSU Extension soybean educator, addresses the topic of Reducing Soybean Production Costs in 2019.  Soybean market prices for the 2019-2020 marketing year are projected to be below the breakeven price when land costs are included. Because of this, producers will need to minimize production costs and maximize efficiency. Michigan State University Extension has compiled a list of management practices for reducing soybean production costs without significantly affecting yields to help producers respond to the low market price. The latest MSU Extension recommendations will be covered on the 2019 Field Crop Webinar Series and supporting research results will be presented where available.

Video Transcript

- I changed the title just a little bit because those of you that know me, know that I do focus 100% of my time on soybean production. And there's enough challenges there to maximize income this year so I really wanna focus most of my time or nearly all of my time on soybean production, reducing soybean production costs. It's an old adage of Ben Franklin's that a penny saved is a penny earned and I do believe that. So that's the kind of things we're gonna talk about here. Before I do that, I wanna jump into this slide, just a very important slide. It's all the right colors, for one thing, very patriotic but a lot of beautiful words and what the words are basically saying is that everything we do at Michigan State University is available to everyone. Really a good concept and that's what we're all about. So the way I'm gonna do this, is I'm gonna talk about a practice and then I'm gonna present some supporting data that support the practice. So the first one is when we have some low prices, with soybeans, we typically want to rotate, not rotate, we wanna maybe... Like last year, corn was more favorable or less favorable, I'm sorry. The prices for corn were less favorable than they were for soybeans so there was a lot of pressure to plant soybeans back to back. We really wanna not do that and the good news; well, I don't know if it's good news but the projected incomes from both crops is really similar. Matter of fact, corn might be a little bit higher actually, the projections, so maybe there won't be so much potential or need to not rotate but rotating is really, really important. This is why, this is a slide from University of Wisconsin, long-term data and yellow bars over here, show the effect of rotation on corn. These pink bars show the rotation effect on soys and then over here on wheat. So basically, if we just focus on the soybean area, so that far left column is soybean corn rotation, 60 bushels per acre, not bad over that time period. But if we would have added wheat into the rotation, the next column to the right, we up that by four bushels per acre just by adding wheat into the rotation in the right order. Now worst case scenario, we were to go to continuous soybeans, we drop down to 51 bushels per acre. You can typically go back to back soybeans without a huge yield loss. You start to go more than that third year, you start to see a decrease, pretty significant decrease. The reason we don't like to see soybeans planted back-to-back is we get some long-term pests that are very difficult to get rid of; soybean cyst nematode, sudden death syndrome, things like that. So we really wanna be really careful not to do that. The next one is and this may not work for everybody but can be very efficient. So reduce or eliminate your tillage operations. This works if your soil's level, if you don't have any harvest ruts and if you've got a piece of planting equipment that can handle the residue. If all those boxes are checked, this is a viable operation for you, viable alternative. This is some data, again, from Wisconsin but if you look in the far left bars, over here, this is our soybean corn rotation, long-term corn-soybean rotation. There is really no yield difference between conventional tillage, the pink bar, and no tillage, the blue bar. No difference whatsoever statistically. You come over here now to first year of soybeans after a long term corn rotation, like maybe five to six years of continuous corn and then we jump into soybeans. Then you do see a little advantage to the no-till, probably because of all of the residue, I'm not sure but it was statistically significant but it's only one bushel. Then you look at all of these other scenarios and there really is no advantage to tillage until you come down here to a continuous soybean rotation then there's a really big advantage to tillage in that scenario, maybe as much as four bushels per acre. So that's something to be aware of. That's, again, Wisconsin data. I chose that data because it's at the same latitude that we're at and typically, when you review the literature on tillage effects on soybean yields, you'll see more of a benefit in northern latitudes so that's why I wanted to choose the Wisconsin data. This is on the other side of Lake Huron, is over in Ontario, same latitude as us. This is really probably the most recent tillage work, comprehensive tillage work on soybeans and it was done over in Ontario for two years, four locations. What's really neat about this is they compared seven different tillage systems over here and they compared them using a drill as their planting equipment or a good unit planter. So you can see the effect of these different tillage systems depending on what you're planting with. So let's start with a drill. If you look at the drill, the no-till is right up there at the top. The only thing that comes close to beating is the moldboard plow and it still doesn't beat it. Numerically, it does but not statistically significant. So we can't really say that it did beat it. Now if we look at the planter, the same trend, the no-till is the highest yielding and you look down here and there's nothing else that beats it. Numerically, maybe one but not statistically significant. Now this last column is really cool. It's the advantage because there's a lot of interest and a lot of people feel like drills are not worth very much anymore. They don't singulate the seed, they don't place it, the right DAP, those kind of things. Well, this data kind of shows in these four locations, let me get my cursor over there. This is the planter advantage. So in each one of these tillage systems, for example, the no-till, there was a 1.3 bushel per acre planter advantage by using planter versus the drill. It wasn't statistically significant because there isn't any asterisks. Well, look at this one right here, this is huge. This is where the biggest in difference occurs. So those of you that are wondering whether using a drill for soybeans is worthwhile, here's the one where it really is challenged. If you were to chop your stalks and that's like with a chopping corn head or whatever you're doing to chop the stalks and then try to no-till into that, there is a huge advantage to the planter. So pretty good data set, very impressive but under most situations, no-till performs really well for soybeans. This is a huge opportunity. Select high-yielding and pest-resistant varieties. We all think we're doing that, I'm sure. The reason it's important is you don't pay any extra for those two traits. You're getting that in the bag or in the bulk bin and you're not paying any extra for it. That's the kind of practice you're looking for. So when it comes to pest resistance, you're gaining just really... Variety selection is one of our number one ways of managing some of our soybean pests. You look at white mold, you look at Phytophthora root rot resistant, sudden death syndrome, soybean cyst nematodes. All four those major pests, variety selection is your number one tool in protecting against that and again, you're not paying any extra for that. So this next slide shows you the effect on how yield is affected by your variety selection. So what I did is I took the MSU variety trials and by each one of those years indicated in the left column there. And it was just the Roundup Ready varieties but I averaged all of the varieties together and the locations together and the maturity groups together and basically, what this shows is this column would be the highest yielding variety, in 2013 for example, minus the average, the yield for the average from those trials. So the high minus the average is seven bushels. Seven bushels is huge in soybeans. Over here, this column is if you're choosing the least performing variety, the lowest-performing variety in the trials. So high minus the low is huge, 13 bushels. You come down here in 2018, it was as high as 14 bushels per acre. Again, you're not paying anything extra for that. Does it take some time and effort? It definitely does and I always recommend a three-legged stool when I'm trying to select varieties. I think the MSU soybean variety trials should be one of those legs of the stool, your own on-farm trials should be another one. You always wanna compare the new varieties against what you're currently using if you can and do that on your farm. The third leg of the stool is just absolutely critical, is work with your seed supplier and visit with them. They have data that MSU doesn't have and that you wouldn't probably get from just your own farm trials. If you're not using any one of the legs of that stool, you're not selecting the best varieties for your farm; at least the probability is there that you're not. Definitely plant soybeans early. This is really important. Of all the agronomic practices, this will put more money in your packet than any other agronomic practice. Yes, pest management, weed control, those kind of things are really, really important but agronomically, variety selection and planting early are the two number one things. I'll put up a slide here that shows you a visual that shows you why. This information comes from James Specht, out of University of Nebraska. And they're basically, two different years; 2003 up on top and then 2004 down below. So four different planting dates in each year. So if we're planting timely, we see we were getting a much bigger plant canopy, we're closing over the rows, we're harvesting more sunlight here by planting early. We have a bigger factory essentially, to harvest that sunlight and convert it into sugars for yield. Alright, now we plant a little bit more of maybe a normal planting date and here, in this year, we didn't close the rows, there's a lot of space there, really small plants, down here they look a little bit better. But you can see what happens is planting gets further delayed, we just have too much bare soil, too little bit of a canopy. We've really started to lose yield. There's been numerous planting date trials out there. Phil Cates at MSU did an excellent one two years in a row in the Richville area and what Phil showed is that we're giving up about a third of a bushel per day, per acre, per day when we delay soybean planting. Other data in Wisconsin says four tenths of a bushel, James Specht in Nebraska's got some numbers where he says in a high-yield environment, it can be as high six tenths of a bushel in more of a lower yield environment than that three tenths of a bushel is about right. So what do I consider early? I would say that last week of April is really a good time to shoot for if conditions are there but never mud the plants here, never mud the seeds here. Always wait until you have good planting conditions. That always tramps the calendar. One of the reasons we do this though is, look at that bare soil, if we have that bare open soil like that, we're getting huge evaporation losses off the soil surface and we're given up yield. Every ounce of moisture that's not being driven through that plant through transpiration, it's costing us yield. So the only way we can really drive that moisture, we go through transpiration and not evaporation is to close our canopy, no bare soil. That's what we really wanna strive for. We wanna also consider reducing planting rates and I know this may not be for the faint of heart sometimes but it is something that I feel is pretty well proven here in Michigan and other locations. In Michigan alone, over the last four years, we've had 40 planting rates, evaluating four different planting rates. So we've had 40 planting rate trials in the state of Michigan over the last four years, a really huge data set and we've had two record yielding years across the state in two of those years and then we've had some pretty poor years. And we've had some really challenging Springs. So I think the data has really gone through a rigorous scrutiny. This is the data right here, the bars. Well, let me show you the treatments. 80,000 was our lowest, we also had 100,000, 130, 160, this is the number of seeds that we dropped per acre. This is not the plants per acre although we did count those. This is the number of seeds that the producers dropped. So the bars are the yields averaged across all 40 sites. This green line is going to be the income averaged across all 40 locations. So one thing you look at, if you just look at the bars, you don't see a real big yield difference at all, especially between these two, they're absolutely identical. You can save 30,000 seeds per acre right there and not suffer at all in yield. You give up a little bit when you come down to 100,000 but it's not very much, it's less than a bushel. And then when you come down to 80,000, then you're starting to look at maybe a little bit over two bushels per acre difference between the 80,000 and 160,000. So that's in yield. Now what's happening to income though? Look at this line and what I used for seed cost and market prices, market prices I used 860 per bushel and I got that from the USDA season-long marketing prices for the marketing year. And then I used $63 for 140,000 seed unit for my seed costs. So if we're taking our gross income minus our seed cost, look at what's happening there. It's just trailing off drastically. We're not increasing yield but we're paying for extra seed. That's what's happening here. So really after all four years of data, 40 sites, this 100,000 was the most profitable. So in most of our trials, I will tell you though, we have to qualify the state a little bit, half of our trials were from the Thumb area of Michigan. So the guys in the Thumb can take this database really to the bank. The rest of us, like the irrigated production area in Southwest Michigan, we only had two of those 40 trials down there. So we really do need to get more trials across the state in different locations but I really think this holds a lot of potential. This is a big one. For those of us that have to apply lime, if you're in the Saginaw Valley, the Thumb or Southeast Michigan, where you've got lake bed soils and high pHs, this perhaps doesn't pertain to you as much but the rest of the state, I think there's a really good opportunity. We really do need to manage our lime very, very carefully because it's a double-edged sword. If you over-apply lime, you're gonna hurt yourself and your soybean yields. If you under-apply, you're gonna hurt yourself. So you wanna be right where you need to be. The only way you can do that is with good soil testing and good application. So here's one of the reasons we do it; we really try to shoot for 6.5 on soybeans. The width of these bars tells you the maximum nutrient availability. Well as we start to scroll on down till we get to manganese, we see that above 6.5, manganese starts to be tied up in the soil and again, those of you in the Saginaw Valley, the lake bed soils, you can't help what Mother Nature gave you but for the rest of us, boy, let's not try to lime up here. Let's not lime any more than 6.5. And this is the reason; you don't wanna induce manganese deficiency. Another reason for, and that's what manganese deficiency looks like, this is a very coarse textured soil here in my home county and the pH was just too high. What happened is, it doesn't take much lime to correct the pH in a really coarse-textured soil. So in this really sandy spot, it just got too much lime. So what this picture shows you is the value of variable rate lime applications. Had we tested the soil with grids or by soil type and then we used variable rate technology, this would not have occurred. I'm convinced of it. So it's an induced, man-induced, human-induced manganese deficiency, let's not do that. Another reason that's really important is that there's been a pretty strong data set out of Iowa and Wisconsin that shows that pH does have an effect on soybean cyst nematode numbers. So if you look at this table, here's the years here, here's three different ranges of soil pHs and then these are gonna be the soybean cyst eggs in 100 grams of soil or 100 cubic centimeters of soil. And look at what happens as the pH increases, almost year by year, it's the same thing. The number of eggs increases. That's the only thing that was changed in this, is the number of eggs or the I'm sorry, the pH affected the number of eggs. So that's huge. You don't want to give those, our number one pest any more of an advantage than they already have. So definitely, do not over-lime. When I say over-lime, don't apply any more than 6.5. That really should be your target for soybeans. The third reason is why we wanna keep the pH right in that six to 6.5 is biological nitrogen fixation, the little bacteria that live in those nodules on your roots, they really like that scenario. You get a little bit more acidic than that and they don't like it so we really do need to maintain the pH right in that range if we can. Actually, the sweet spot is 6.3 to 6.5 if you can. Again, those of you that don't have any control over it, just be ready to ready to manage SEN and be ready to manage manganese. For heaven's sakes, don't apply nitrogen fertilizer. I can't say this adamantly enough. We've got some data set that show this in Michigan but hundreds of trials across the country show that yes, sometimes you will see a yield advantage but that yield advantage very rarely translates into an income advantage. Here's one of the trials that we did, actually shows three trials, three locations for one trial. The strongest data set that supports nitrogen comes out of Kansas State. It was done in the 90s and it was done two years, eight sites and six of the eight sites showed a significant increase to just 20 pounds of actual nitrogen. It was applied late season in a very high yield environment, above 65 bushels per acre and they showed anywheres from six to seven bushel increase. So we have a lot of irrigated soils in Michigan, high yield environment, we wanted to duplicate that so that's what we did. And took these down to St. Joe, they were all under center pivot irrigation and we applied zero pounds of nitrogen versus 21 pounds of nitrogen and you can see how flat the data is there, really high yields, high yields, no difference. Nitrogen didn't make us any money. Here, maybe gave us a bushel and a half. We can't say that but let's say it did. It's still not enough to pay for the nitrogen. So that's that trial. We tried to emulate the strongest database that was out there and couldn't do it. This is another trial up in the Thumb. This is in St. Clair County. The grower wanted to put on 67 pounds of actual nitrogen. He had read someplace that 100 pounds of urea plus 100 pounds of ammonium sulfate broadcast prior to planting will really boost your soybean yields. Well, good yields and we didn't see any kind of boost and it cost 38 bucks an acre for the product and the application. This is another product, this is a foliar product that we tested over multiple years, multiple locations and we did show a statistically significant yield increase, 1.6 bushels, the NDemand did give us 1.6 bushels when you averaged all of our locations together. But when you subtract out, the cost of the product, the application cost and you look at your bottom line then, you were money ahead by not putting the product on soybeans. So I'm not sure how it performs in other crops but in soybeans, it was not a profitable enterprise for us. This was a really interesting trial. The producer basically, one year down in Cass County had broadcast him anhydrous ammonia for his corn, not broadcast but knifed it in before his corn but then he got into some planting delays and for one reason or another, decided to switch to soybeans and the nitrogen was there. He swears that he had some of the best soybean yields he's ever had in his life and he thinks it was due to the anhydrous and he was quoting numbers like 15 to 20 bushel per acre increase, just phenomenal numbers from the anhydrous. So the following year, we tested it. We put it out in replicated strips and what we did is we had a zero, no nitrogen; we had 40 pounds per acre as anhydrous and 100 pounds of nitrogen as anhydrous. Well, you can see the data. The zero was the highest yielding, numerically. It wasn't statistically different than 40 pounds of N but it was higher but both of those beat the 100 pounds of that. You look at the growth and even the growth is higher for the no nitrogen but then you come down here and you look at the gross income minus the product plus the application and you're giving up some phenomenal yields. Let me go back one. You're giving up some phenomenal dollars. It's just really a big deal. By putting that nitrogen on, we cost ourselves over 70 bucks an acre. So no nitrogen. - [Moderator] All right, Mike, you were on a great run there so I didn't wanna interrupt you but we do have a couple questions, if this is a good point to stop. - This is a good point to stop. - [Moderator] Okay, so I'll work backwards. In the population trial you showed... - Yes? - [Moderator] Were they planted with a planter, drill or both? - Really good question. We let the growers do these. These are on-farm trials and they were planted with both but out of all of those trials, I think there was only three, maybe four out of 40 that were planted with drills. And that's including air seeders, not just box drills, that would be air seeders as well, only maybe four of them were planted that way. The vast majority were with unit planters, either in 30 inch rows, some increment of 20s. Over in the Thumb, there's a lot of 20 to 22 inch rows and then 15 inch rows was the vast, 15 was our most common row spacing. - [Moderator] Okay, thank you. And Carl was wondering was the soybean planting rates listed on the graph considering germination rates or emerged plants? - Basically, the numbers that I presented was the number of seeds that we dropped. That was the actual just the seed count that we dropped with our drop, what we planted on the day we planted. At least that was our target. But we did go back and take stand counts. And we do have the stand count data and I can share some of that, maybe graphically, I'm not sure, but we do have that. Typically, what we saw, is our typical mortality rate was right around 18 to 20% is what we saw. So our final stand counts were 18 to 20 percent less than what we dropped. So that 80,000, we were harvesting 65, 60-65,000 plants per acre and still, our yields were not tailing off. - [Moderator] Okay, and then the next one from Nicholas is does planting earlier where the rows fill in sooner, affect the amount of white mold in the soybeans? - Unfortunately, it can, yes. And there's one other downside, Nicholas, would be sudden death syndrome. Although the data of sudden death syndrome from Wisconsin shows that even though yes, you do get more sudden death syndrome by planting earlier, the overall yields in that same trial were better because they planted earlier even though they had more sudden death syndrome in there. But white mold, yes. It is something you need to be aware of and I will talk about some tactics for managing white mold because I think we do have some good tools but you do not wanna put all of your eggs in the fungicide basket. Fungicides are good but don't rely totally on them. - [Moderator] Okay, and then the last question: is there data comparing row width? Example, seven verses 15, verses 22, verse 30. - Yes, not so much in Michigan though. And we're embarking on that this next year. We are gonna be doing a lot of 15s versus 30s, is the row spacing comparison we're doing. I'd like to get 20 of those across the state and the reason we're doing that is the most common question I'm getting regarding row spacing is what is the yield penalty to go into 30 inch rows? Because we wanted seed cost, we can drop less seed in 30 inch rows and we can also do a better job of managing white mold in 30 inch rows. So there's a lot of interest in 30 inch rows but they wanna know am I giving up anything. If I am, how much am I giving up? The only data that's really out there was compiled very nicely by well, I mean the data is out there through the university system but Pioneer actually did a wonderful job of accumulating that data in one of their brawny booklets. It's all University data, all Pioneer did is put it together for us and summarize it and basically, the numbers that they cite is no difference between seven and a halves and 15. Those are the same but when you go from 15 to 30, their data says you're giving up 3 1/2 bushels per acre. I just don't know if that's real in Michigan and that's why we wanna get a bunch of these trials. So if there's anybody out there that has a inner plant planter and wants to work with me, please contact me, it'll be a really easy trial if you got an inner plant planter. - [Moderator] If this makes it easy, Mike, they're welcome to drop their... Oh, it's not anonymous on here though. Never mind, Mike's information will be at the end of the presentation so we'll make sure to give that to you so you could email or call him if you're interested. - Good, thank you. Any other questions, Monica? - [Monica] That concluded the questions for now. So you go ahead with the video, thank you. - Just one more on nitrogen, I wanna talk about because you might have heard about starter nitrogen. Should we be putting some starter nitrogen? So this is a trial that we did in Calhoun County. The KTS stands for potassium thiosulfate. So we put on zero starter fertilizer and that would be this column. We put on just the potassium thiosulfate here and then we put the potassium thiosulfate plus nitrogen, about 20 pounds, 18 pounds of actual N is what we put on. So you can see that the KTS did beat the zero treatment, it was more profitable and it can be, in some really sandy coarse textured soils, we've seen this in St. Joe County. We've seen it with a producer in Berrien County. So it wasn't real frequent but it did give us an increase but then, you add the nitrogen. That's the only thing different here. The nitrogen made no difference. Compare those two yields, absolutely no difference but yet, we're paying for it and so the income goes down. So that's the problem with doing that. Nitrogen on soybeans is just not a good idea. This is another one that really, I think, we can just feel really certain about. Eliminate foliar fertilizer applications to soybeans. We did 117 trials in the state of Michigan since 2009 on soybeans, 117 different trials looking at a bunch of different foliar fertilizers. Only eight of those 117 trials were profitable, only eight out of 117. That's not very good odds. Now is there an exception? There is an exception and this is it. If you see this symptom; green veins, yellow leaves early in the season, it's manganese deficiency. It can show up on this really sugar sand type of soil if the pH is too high. It'll only show up here if the pH is above 6.5. It typically shows up on muck soils and on lake bed soils is where you'll typically see it or black sands. But then, we do wanna come across the top with a foliar application of manganese sulfate is the preferred choice because it's cheap and it's effective. There are some EDTA chelates, the advantage of the chelated products is that they can be tank mixed next with glyphosate. The manganese sulfate absolutely cannot be tank mixed with glyphosate. It's gotta be put on either three days before or three or more days after. So the glyphosate application. This is a really big one right here. We wanna maintain our critical soil test levels for P and K, that's essential. So what do I mean, what is the critical soil test level? Well, the definition of it is, it's the soil test level where 95 to 97% of that crop's yield potential is gonna be met just by the background nutrients that are in the soil. 95 to 97% of the yield is gonna be there if you put no fertilizer on. So that's what that means. So in potassium, this is the critical, this is a really important formula down here. See this formula? My slides are gonna be kept but please, remember that formula. It's how you calculate your critical K level for any soil test report. This table does it for you. So if you got a CEC of four, then the critical soil test level is 85 parts per million. As CEC goes up to 12, that jumps up to 105 parts per million. So very, very important. For phosphorous, it's a real simple number. It doesn't change with CEC. It's just 15 parts per million is the critical soil test level. Don't let it fall below that. This slide is from Ontario, Horst Bohner. He's one of my favorite agronomists, he's just really, really sharp. And what Horst does, here in this slide is it's a bunch of data and he's comparing some low background soil fertility to higher background. This really isn't that low. It depends on how much lower it is in those two levels but it's lower than over here. So with no fertilizer applied, look at the yield difference there. So you see that the background fertility is just really important for soybeans and that's very, very important with potassium. So don't short yourself on potassium. If you have really high testing levels maybe you can get by without some but I think maintenance levels are probably warranted on most of our fields. The other thing that this slide shows is that the added fertilizer doesn't give you any benefit if you've got high fertility soils, very similar to our critical level concept. Adding fertilizer is just gonna give you marginal yield increases once you have your soil test levels where they should be. So I just wanna talk about this concept because there might be some people that might want to reduce their soil potassium levels or their applications. They might wanna forego a potash application. This right here is the most important thing to remember is that soil test levels do decrease faster in coarse textured soils than they do in fine textured soils. So crops must remove eight to 20 pounds of K2O, of actual K2O to reduce the soil test by one part per million. The eight is for your coarse textured soils, the 20 is for fine textured soils. And the converse is true. So let's go through an example. Let's say that we've got a producer that doesn't wanna put any potash on his soybean ground this year. And he wants to raise 60 bushels per acre. How much is that 60 bushels per acre gonna reduce his soil test level? Well, so 60 bushels times the 1.4 pounds per acre of K20 that's gonna be taken out per bushel equals 84 pounds. So now we know that we've removed 84 pounds of K2O per acre but it's not gonna change my soil test by 84 pounds per acre. So we gotta make that conversion. In a loamy sand soil, we would divide that 84 pounds by that eight that was in the previous slide and we end up with 10. So it is gonna drop that soil test by 10 parts per million which is significant in a sandy soil. Now in a finer textured soil, it's only gonna drop at maybe four parts per million by not putting any any potash on whatsoever. So that's an important concept for those of you that are wrestling with that decision. First of all, don't short yourself in potash and don't let your sawdust levels fall below the critical level. Seed treatments, this is a dicey one. Our data says that really, it's a mixed bag. They can be profitable in some situations but the vast majority of our trials are not been profitable. The reason I say it's a little bit sticky this year's because their seed quality is a little less high quality seed than what we deal with year in and year out. So this might be the year where seed treatment is more favored than in other years. So this is some of our data and we have 21 sites here of those 21 sites, so the green bar and the number above it is the yield increase that you got above doing nothing, no seed treatment. So for example, right here, 3.7 bushel gain that guy did. So that's huge, it was profitable because it was above that line. These other two were not. Over here, these two are profitable but none of the other ones were. So three out of the 21 sites were profitable. This one is a much easier decision. Don't apply the plant health fungicides unless field and weather conditions are favorable to white mold and if that's the case, there are a whole different class of fungicides typically. So fungicides, foliar fungicides, in the absence of white mold are just not gonna make anymore is another way of looking at this. And here's a data set that shows it. We had one site out of nine that did make money. The rest of these did not. You average them together and they lost 1.6 bushels. You had to have 3.2 bushels to break even. The average is only 1.6. They lost money. So that's a practice that would be very easy to give up unless the field conditions and the weather conditions are favorable for white mold and then if that's the case, fungicides are definitely one of your tools but they should not be your only tool. So the tools that you should be looking at, you should be looking at resistant varieties, I already talked about that, wide row widths and your row width has gotta be great 20 inches or greater to really get an advantage for white mold. 15 inch rows are just not wide enough to get the necessary air movement to get down there. Reduced planting rates are very effective. Two of our 40 trials had very substantial white mold infestations and the 80,000 planting rate yielded more, five bushels per acre more than the 160,000 per acre planting rate. It was an $80 per acre swing by planting 80,000, 160,000. Tillage decisions are huge. The easiest one to make is this one right here. If you've had a bad white mold infestation and you have lots of those rat droppings or sclerotia in the grain tank, what you wanna do is you wanna no-till wheat into that field. Don't till it, plant it without tillage. The sclerotia are gonna germinate in that dense wheat canopy the following spring and you're gonna burn them out. And if you till them in any deeper than two inches, they're gonna be there for five to eight years anyways. Irrigation water timing is huge if you're an irrigator and then foliar fungicides can be a really good tool as long as you're selecting the most effective fungicides and there's four of them. Marty Chilvers has them listed on his page but Approach, Endura Omega and Propulse are the four most effective fungicides. You wanna properly time them using the Sporecaster phone app. If you're not familiar with this, please become familiar with it before the season and then you wanna equip and operate your sprayer to maximize the spray canopy, get the spray into the canopy and get the maximum coverage. You wanna plant early maturing varieties if you can. Again, this doesn't cost you anything but we could eliminate some of these, I'll show you the situations we can eliminate. We can eliminate that situation by planting earlier maturing varieties. We can eliminate that situation by planting earlier varieties. This would be considered the adapted zones in Michigan and depends who you talk to. It could be conservative, could be aggressive. I think it's fairly accurate myself. So what I did is to answer this question; is does soybean maturity group affect soybean yields in Michigan? And the answer is really surprising. It really doesn't, as long as we're choosing the best yielding varieties but I looked at eight years of data from the Michigan Soybean Performance Reports. I took the highest yielding Roundup Ready varieties. In the central region, I took the top four varieties in each maturity group and in the southern region, I took the top five and reason I did that is I wanted to reduce the effect of any individual variety. I wanted to make sure it was a majority group effect and not an individual yield effect from an individual variety. I know this is a lot of data, we're not gonna look at all the numbers but I just wanna show you that, basically, let's go over, matter of fact, right to the next slide. So here's the maturity groups that we looked at, 1.7 to 2.9, this is in the central zone and then here's the average yields for all four of these sites. Look at how they really don't change that much as long as you're choosing the best yielding varieties within those ranges. So the next slide though shows you a little something more detailed though. If I'm going too long in the central zone, much longer than a 2.6, the yields do start to tail off at two of the locations, Allegan and Sanilac. They tail off pretty pretty drastically there. Now let's look at what happens in the southern zone. So this is the southern zone, we only went from 2.2 to 3.2, fewer, a little narrower spread but still one full maturity group. One thing you notice when you look at the zone average, is you start to give up some by planting too early but if you plant at 2.4 later, no difference. Now look at what happens though in three of the sites. You get huge penalty for planting too early. It can be anywheres from five bushels, three to five bushels, at those three locations. So you don't wanna plant too early of a variety down south, seems to be that 2.4 to 3.2 is a sweet spot for the southern tier. We wanna reduce our harvest losses. This is again, not gonna cost you a penny, well, maybe if you invested some money in some technology possibly but if you just pay attention to details, you can do a good job as well. Biggest thing is there's several factors that can cause big harvest losses. This is one of the biggest ones. Hopefully, everybody can see it. It's green stem syndrome and look at how mature these pods are, the pods are all brown and dry and ready to harvest but the stems are green. If you're faced with this scenario, do not wait. That's where your harvest losses are gonna occur. You go after these beans, no matter how much extra fuel it's gonna take you, no matter how much slow you gotta go, you definitely begin and take advantage of getting those fields off if you've got good weather conditions. Don't let green stem delay your harvest. This is another situation, lodging. This happens to be an MSU variety trial and look at this variety standing straight as an arrow and look at this variety just flat as can be. So what's unique about this, is there are several agronomic factors that affect lodging. And this trial has eliminated all of those. They were planted on the same date, the fertility is the same and planted at the same rate. So those factors have been eliminated. The only thing that caused this one to lodge and this one not to lodge is the difference in varieties. So again, one more reason to pay attention to variety selection, I'd much rather combine this than this. This is my last recommendation. This is from Christy Sprague and company. That weeds page is just really a wealth of resources and one of the things that's there that's just a real gem is their commercial comparisons, herbicide comparisons. So the companies give them some programs to compare head-to-head and they compare them in soybeans and corn and they do it in non-GMO soybeans and GMO soybeans, both. And they measure three things; they measure yield, they measure weed control and they also do economics on there. It's one of our best-kept secrets and it shouldn't be because it's just incredibly valuable information and you can get it at this website. One of the things that they've showed year in and year out is that the cost of the herbicide program isn't the big factor. The biggest thing that really is a factor is the level of weed control and the level of crop injury. Those are the two things that really determine whether it's a profitable program, the cost of the herbicide is not as big of deal. It's the cost of the, not the cost, but the level of weed control and the level of crop injury that determine that. I wanna put this slide up. This just proves that, as a government employee, I do not quit at five o'clock. The other thing it does is it shows where you can get all of our field crop information. If you just type this in, you'll get to our news page and then you just can type there's a search box. You can type in Monica and find out all the articles she wrote, you can type in Eric, you can type in me and you can find every article we've ever wrote. They archive them there and it's just a wealth of information. So it's called MSU News but that is the site for it. And Monica, I can take some questions if there's any left so? - [Monica] What about mare's tail, was it a big problem last year? - It was, it wasn't as big a problem, I think, across the state as it was the year before. I think we're starting to get a little bit of a handle on it but it is our toughest weed, toughest annual weed, certainly because of its reproductive capability and those kind of things. There is really good, Christy, if you go to that website Sally, that I put the link on there, MSU Weeds, essentially. If you just googled MSU Weeds, you will find Christy's recommendations for controlling mare's tail, really, really concrete recommendations that will help you get a handle on it. So tillage is effective. Some herbicide programs are effective, certainly LibertyLink, some of the dicamba programs but you do need to use some residual herbicides and timing is really, really important. So all of that is summarized in a couple of fact sheets. She's also got them available in the back of her bulletin. I shouldn't say just Christy's, Erin Burns authors that with Christy but Christy's got the soybean chapters and so mare's tail is more probably her specialty but there's recommendations in the back of the weed guide, E434, so if you have one of those, that will help you. - Alright, thanks Mike. And I also want to know if you are interested in the map of where they've had confirmed resistance because I know mare's tail is one. They do have a map on the weeds website that also shows where those resistances have been found and samples collected, of course. The next question is inoculation effects. - Yes, Michigan, Kurt Thelen, my predecessor at the University; he was our last PhD soybean agronomist on campus until we got Manny Sang, so we're lucky to have Manny. But Kurt did some work back and I believe in 2006-2007, some really solid work looking at inoculation in Michigan. He looked at it in well nodulated beans, he also looked at it in, I'm sorry, well-rotated beans and in beans that have been like virgin ground, that had not seen soybeans ever and he showed, even in the beans that were rotated, in the corn soybean rotation, he showed a 1.3 bushel advantage to using inoculant. So I would say and the interesting thing is Michigan is really the only land-grant university that does recommend inoculating soybeans every year, regardless of rotation. So it's just such a cheap investment, cheap insurance. I asked all of my extension colleagues, maybe three, four years ago, we got together, the agronomists got together and I told them that and should we be changing our recommendation? And they said, "No, Kurt's got this solid data." And it's such a cheap investment. We really believe that inoculation is a good thing to do. I should say Ontario has also some good data on using inoculant so I would continue to use it. - The next question is is there any data for yield if you no-till into cover crops. - I don't know any and specific to Michigan that I have, I don't know of any no but I think we do need to look at that because it is really a big trend, planting green, planting soybeans into a green cover crop, especially the cereals, it's got some real benefits. It's something we definitely need to look at. I don't have any data on it but I think if it's managed correctly, I don't see that there would be any penalty. And by managed correctly, make sure that you do have the cover crop terminated properly. Don't let it go any more than five days after planting, probably four days after planting, at the latest if you're planting green. If not, control it before planting. - Purdue has some nice publications about planting into crimped cereal rye soybean and good success, if Brock Ma would like to look into that. Troy Frank asked is green stem syndrome more prevalent in 30 inch rows, been having more problems with it. Also, does row starter have any effect? - Really good question. The type of green stem, green stem can come from two different scenarios. One is a virus and we have not seen that in Michigan to any great extent. So I ruled out the virus, at least every time I've seen green stem it's been more of an environmental green stem and by that, I mean typically, the conditions that set the stage are dry conditions, during most of the season and so you have limited pod set. Your pod set is less than what the canopy can really support and ideally, then you get abundant rainfall in August or early September so what happens is you have a bigger source on that plant than you have a sink for the nutrients and so all those photosynthates, instead of being able to go into the pods because you have such few seed there, it goes into the stem and keeps the stems greener. So that's the environmental conditions that favor it and it is variety specific, I do know that, we've seen that show up in varieties. The trouble with that is that companies don't really promote it, I think maybe with a lot of digging, you might be able to find it but it's not published in their seed catalogs, so I don't know. Because it is environmental, it's triggered only in certain years, it's hard to list it. 30-inch rows, is there any reason to believe it would be worse? The only thing I can tell you is that picture that I flashed was in 30-inch rows and that was about as bad as I've ever seen it. So I'll have to dig a little deeper into that, Troy. I don't know the answer to that. I don't see why it would though because, possibly, well, let me think about a little bit logically. Remember it's a source and sink type of an issue, it's you have too much leaf canopy in relation to the pod set that you have and so yes, our 30-inch beans can be pretty lush and I don't see a direct correlation though. I'm gonna have to get back with you Troy on that, I don't know. - Troy, if you don't mind, if you could submit your email address or phone number into the chat box, you can select that you only send it to the panelists, so if you could please do that and then we can get your information to Mike to follow up on that question. And then the last question is a loop back to the inoculation. There's a question about seed treatment, just says seed treatment with a question mark. (giggles) - Yeah, that's a tough one for me Sally this year. This year it is because we have, I guess the way I would answer this is I would check my seed tags, if my seed tags were 90% on the warm germ or I would not really seriously consider it unless you've got reason to believe. Now there is one seed treatment that's performed very well not just in Michigan, but across the board. It's ILeVO, it used to be a Bayer product and now it's BASF product but ILeVO and that performs really well against one disease, sudden death syndrome. So the way Marty Chilvers has put this in the past, our pathologist, is if you have seen sudden death syndrome in your field in the past, then it's probably warrants using ILeVO seed treatment. If you haven't seen it, that's another story but if you have seen it, there's a strong case to be built for it. Seed treatments are not the most effective way of managing soybean cyst nematodes. So you're looking at a seed treatment to manage soybean cyst nematodes, you're gonna get maybe a 5% benefit at best. There's been a lot of data on it. They don't suppress the nematode populations and they don't increase yields significantly, at least the ones that have been tested. So that's where we're at on that but if you have, like let's say you had a field that was manured and you had a field where one of these green cover crops was terminated and maybe worked into the soil within two weeks of planting, seedcorn maggot is gonna be a real potential than maybe a seed treatment that is effective on seedcorn maggot might be warranted. If you're coming out of a side, grass side, then maybe an insecticide for, not seed corn maggot but for wireworms or white grubs would be warranted. If you have a field that has a history of Phytophthora root rot, basically dead spots in the field, dead and dying plants in the field in a fairly concentrated area usually, if you've seen that, then maybe a good seed treatment for Phytophthora root rot is warranted. So if you have poor quality seed or any of those, it's probably warranted. Other than that, I'm not sure.

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