Monday, 24 October 2016

Rumsey Soybeans Year 2: 2016 growing season

  2015 was my first attempt at growing Soybeans and I had kept my expectations low going in but felt that the potential was there to add a great crop to the rotation. At the end of the growing season I was happy to see that I'd harvest my first soybean crop. The yields and returns were all right but not to the point where I could say they were competitive with my other crops. My goal in year 2 was to find varieties that will offer yields that make it a crop I can put in the rotation and feel confident I can see a decent return. So I went into year 2 with a little more knowledge and hopes for more timely rains. I purchased a new drill going into 2016 moving to a 46' from a 33', with the addition of some new land to seed I felt I needed it to get the crop in the ground in a timely manner. It is still 10" spacing and 3" Dutch low draft openers. I like this setup as it is simple and does a good job in most soil types. Having some heavy clay soils means some openers are just not an option. I seed quite slow as well so the larger implement helps deter the urge to push the throttle ahead.

  The 2016 crop year started off in April with the seeding of Yellow Peas and continued through into May with Wheat, Barley, Canola and finally Soybeans on May 16th. Seeding conditions were more than ideal with ground temperatures increasing quickly and adequate moisture.

  This year I tried 7 different varieties of Soybeans in plot size(1.5 acres) and 4 of those in 15 acres field size trials. Dekalb once again helped with the plot and having Josh Lanes there to help with clean out made it go quite quickly. The 3 Dekalb varieties were 22-60 (2275 chu), 23-11 (2300 chu) and 23-60 (2350 chu).
  I grew 2 Syngenta varieties S0009-M2 (2275 chu) and S007-Y4 (2350 chu). I really wanted to try Syngenta this year and so early last winter I tried to source seed. I found out that they didn't offer them in Alberta and was very disappointed because I felt they had a lot of potential. Then I received an e-mail from Christine Spasoff who is a rep for Syngenta in Northern Alberta. She said she saw my request for some seed and had read my Soybean blog from last year and told me she could get me some of each variety shipped to Trochu. I'm very thankful to her for taking the time to do that for me as I know it wasn't easy to get all that lined up.
  I also had  P002T04R's (2350 chu). These I purchased from Kerry Sharpe a local farmer and Pioneer rep. I had heard good things as far as yield but with them being a longer season variety I was a little concerned but felt it was worth a try.
  The last variety was Thunder Seeds 3303R2Y (2400 chu). The highest chu demand of all the varieties requiring 125 more than the 22-60's and M2"s. These I purchased from Patrick Fabian who was great to deal with and recommended this variety as other farmers had good results in the past.

 So all totaled there was 80 acres of Soybeans seeded. Slightly more than I wanted but to get all the varieties in as well as the plot I had to commit those acres. As you can see from the mapping above the plot was in the middle of the field surrounded by the field size plots(15 acres).
  Seeding went well with the seed being placed about 1.5" down  and granular innoculant placed with the seed. All varieties came pre inoculated and treated as well. Most varieties were seeded at 70 lbs/acre which gave about 180,000 seeds/acre. It was a good day around 20 Celsius and the ground temp. was 12 degrees. The forecast looked good with highs in the low 20's all week and a chance of rain by Friday. It ended up cooling off that Friday with the rain only reaching 13 and I feel that could impact yield slightly.
  Emergence took about a week this year. Slower than 2015 but I feel the cooler weather was a deterrent causing slower growth, but once they came up they made up for it in a hurry.

  It was great to have some early moisture with 100 mm by June 13th as well as 400 chu. Quite a bit more than 2015 which I think may have caused some of the lack of height last year.

  I was happy with emergence and nodulation at this point. Single shooting them helped with defined rows as well as good proximity of seed to inoculant.

  Towards the end of June seems like a good time to check nodulation. Good nodulation shows the plants are healthy as well as showing that you had proper inoculant placement. I feel it is important to double inoculate and I use granular as well as seed applied liquid.  By June 27th we were at 630 chu and 115 mm of rain which helped the yield potential compared to last year when we received very little rain in June.

   July and August were good months for plant development and I thankfully  missed being hailed on by 1/2 a mile. Heat units during these months are critical with upwards of 20 per day this is where the majority of crop advancement occurs as you can see by the tire photos

  Nevin from Alberta pulse came for a visit the beginning of August to check out the soybeans. I had a few people come and see them this year and always enjoy touring them around. There was definitely more interest being shown and lots of questions being asked. Farmers are starting to consider growing soybeans and my advice is start small and do your research and pick a good proven early variety. Seeding early is not the key but timely seeding is more important. Waiting for sustained soil temps of 10 Celsius is very important and daytime highs in the 20's.

 The rains continued into September reaching 350 mm by September 5th. and heat units were at 1960. and some varieties were already at R7 and showing color change.

  By mid September there was some leaf drop and still no frost. Pod counts were very promising with quite a few 4 bean pods.

September 25th was our first frost which I would say is a normal date for our area. The plants were developed enough that yield loss will be minimal.

October was interesting as no new heat units were added after the 2nd ending in about 2240 chu for the year and close to 400 mm of total rainfall. I would say this is not an average year for rain or heat units but they do happen in Central Alberta once in awhile. You can see in the photo below the different varieties and the plot in the center of the 80 acre field.

  So on October 22nd and 23rd I harvested the earliest varieties. The plot and the later varieties will be harvested at a later date I hope. With the lower heat units in October any of the varieties that required over 2350 heat units did not finish like last year as you can see from the photo above. This is all part of the process of pushing the boundaries and seeing what the limits are for soybean production in my area. The earlier varieties on the other hand thrived with the ample timely rains and exceeded my expectations as far as yield.
  I feel that yields over 30 bu/acre at $12 makes them a competitive part of a rotation. Other farmers may disagree but in my operation it's the number I'm comfortable with. This year the early varieties did better than 30 so I was very pleased but also realizing that not every year we will get 400 mm of rain. So comparing 2015 to 2016 I had 80 mm more rain and 40 less chu and yields were better but maturity was delayed and that is to be expected. 

  I hope the people that follow #RumseySoybeans on twitter find my posts informative and interesting. I enjoy using twitter as my diary to keep notes on crop development and use it to look back on my production year. The last 2 years I've learned not just how to become a better soybean farmer but to strive to be a better farmer on all my crops. Using the knowledge from other producers through discussions has helped me become better at what I do and I appreciate their willingness to help me out and I take every opportunity I get to pay it forward.

 So with some crop still remaining out in the field in the #Harvest16 that never seems to end, I sign off on another year of Soybean production in Central Alberta and Look forward to spring of 2017 and year 3 of #RumseySoybeans

  UPDATE: On November 3rd I completed the rest of the Later variety as well as finished the plot with the help of Jordan from Dekalb. Yields varied from 18-35 Bu/ac in the plot and overall I was happy with yields and getting them in the bin!

Follow along on Twitter @Kowalchukfarms and #RumseySoybeans

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