Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Year in Review by Todd Burrus

Tribute page to Tom in 2017 Burrus Harvest Report
Last year's Harvest Report was a tribute to my brother, Tom. It is easy for me to look back and smile as I think about the times Tom and I enjoyed in our 50 years of working together. Tom was my supervisor my first day of detasselling. It is also easy to reflect back on the whirlwind of the last year and appreciate all that we have learned. 

First, I recall sitting down with family members making up our ownership team a week after Tom passed. We wrote on the whiteboard everything we knew he did. As with any family operation, we redistributed the load. Five of us each took part of the list. I think I can speak for all of us when I say, Tom always had a lot going on and we all miss him! He really did an amazing job of helping us to be prepared.

Second, he truly had his house in order. This fact has made it significantly easier on his family. I am told a low percentage of people have an estate plan and have communicated their plan with those close to them. Do your family and yourself a favor, get a plan!

Tim Greene stepped us as President. I can see growth in him and in his confidence to lead. Tim worked side-by-side with Tom for 21 years and learned well. I am proud to be a source of encouragement to him.

This spring helped affirm the value of seed quality and PowerShield® seed treatment. It was one of the lowest replant seasons ever. Growers continue to enjoy the benefits. Post-emerge spray season affirmed off-target chemical drift. It is a continued concern. We are pleased that we not only offer choice but can truly help growers consider all the factors necessary to make good decisions.

Reviewing interview footage with the RFD-TV video team
A few days of heat during pollination hurt a few of our seed fields. I suspect it also helped create some surprises for customers. This is continued confirmation that planting a package of Burrus products provides the best tool to manage future weather patterns. Martha thinks I have been a broken record on this topic for at least 40 years and she has not even turned 40 yet!

The opportunity to tell the Burrus story on RFD-TV was an unexpected lift. It was a positive message about the value of independent seed companies. It also provided a chance to see and hear what sets Burrus apart. 

The announcement of the DONMARIO™ brand was another big step. This allows us to introduce a global source of soybean genetics to the American farmer. More importantly, it connects two family seed businesses with similar values and goals. Customer reaction has been very positive as they search for a new source that is founded on genetics and not on traits. 

Dave Hughes, Martha Krohe, Todd Burrus, Ignacio Bartolome, & Tim Greene

The Burrus reputation for seed quality remains. Kevin Burrus has put another high-quality seed crop in the bin. Listening to Burrus harvest successes has been very encouraging. It has also been a privilege to walk alongside the customers who have experienced weather adversity. Knowing your seed supplier knows and cares has value!

Growers put their trust in us, our information, and our products. We take that responsibility seriously. We look forward to serving you for many years to come!

This article was originally printed in the 2018 Burrus Harvest Report.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Meet Our 2018 Summer Interns

Another growing season is drawing to a close, and it's time to recognize and thank our outstanding 2018 summer interns! Burrus Seed representatives attend college career fairs across our footprint each fall seeking interns for the following summer. We have been lucky to always have a large pool of students interested in joining our team to learn while traveling with sales team members, calling on customers, and erecting field signs.

We are now accepting applications for our 2019 summer internships and will be attending several college career fairs across our footprint this fall. If you are interested in an internship with Burrus Seed, visit our website or email us at

2018 Burrus Seed Summer Interns

Zach Edwards
Zach is from Godfrey, IL and will be returning to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the fall as a senior. Zach is pursuing a dual major in Agribusiness Economics and Crop, Soil & Environmental Management. With these degrees, Zach hopes for a  future career in seed or crop protection sales. Zach's hobbies include hunting and being an active member of Farm House fraternity.

Mason Gardner
Mason is from Mendon, MO and will be a senior this fall at Northwest Missouri State University. Mason's experiences from growing up on his family's farm with row crops and cattle prepared him well for this summer. Mason is working towards a double major in Ag Business and Agronomy. In his free time, Mason enjoys track and field, hunting, fishing, and farming.

Wade Prough
Wade is from Carrollton, IL and was our Agronomy Intern this summer, working with our agronomic research team. Wade will be a junior at Western Illinois University in the fall and is pursuing a major in Ag Science with a minor in Agronomy. When he's not in a field, Wade's hobbies include old cars, motorcycles, and semis. 

Nicholas Simpson
Nicholas is from Lanark, IL and spent the summer working alongside the Hughes sales team members. This fall, Nicholas will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin Platteville. Nicholas is pursuing a major in Soil and Crop Science with an Ag Business minor. Nicholas stays busy in his free time being a volunteer firefighter, as well as hunting, fishing, boating and snowmobiling.

Aaron Slack
Aaron is from Paxton, IL and will be a senior this year at the University of Illinois. Aaron's major is Agriculture Science Education and he hopes to one day be an ag teacher. A background of FFA, 4-H, and working on the family farm prepared Aaron for his summer with the Burrus team. Aaron's hobbies include hunting, guiding hunts with his yellow lab, golfing, and fishing.  

Justen Woods
Justen is from Ipava, IL and assisted Pete George's sales team in Territory B this summer. Justen will be starting his senior year at Western Illinois University in the fall with a major in Ag Science. Justen enjoys the outdoors spending his free time farming, working with cattle, hunting, fishing, and riding four-wheelers.

Our sales team could not get through the growing season without help from our interns, and we are all grateful for this year's group. We wish them all the best on their future plans and hope they all find rewarding careers one day in the ag industry.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Celebrating Our Sales Team

The Burrus Seed sales team recently held their annual sales season kick-off meeting. The group met in Branson, Missouri for a weekend of training, discussion, collaboration and fun. Following an afternoon of meetings introducing and reviewing various topics, the sales team, management team, and their families met for a dinner and awards banquet.

The awards portion of the evening is always looked forward to, where the hard work put in over the past year is recognized and admired. We are proud of the efforts our staff put forth each day to advance the success and profitability of our growers.

Two new awards were introduced this year. The Burrus Seed Breakout Performer of the Year recognizes the sales team member who focuses on expanding their business. The 2018 Breakout Performer of the Year was awarded to Colby Reilson of Highland, IL. 

2018 Burrus Seed Breakout Performer of the Year Colby Reilson and Tim Greene

In memory of Tom Burrus, a new award was introduced to recognize the team member who demonstrates outstanding effort to help the customers and company win. Jordan Watson of Shelbina, MO was awarded the 2018 Tom Burrus Award. A perpetual plaque listing annual winners of the award will be on display in the Jacksonville office.

2018 Tom Burrus Award recipient Jordan Watson with (left to right) Tim Greene, wife Maggie Watson, Lori Greene and Marcy Burrus

We have an outstanding sales team and enjoyed the time spent together as a group. Here's to the start of a successful new sales season! 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Percent Corn and Soybeans Planted in Burrus Footprint - 5/4/18

It is amazing how much planting can get done in a week; however, we still have some more work to accomplish, especially with soybeans.  About half of the Burrus territory appears to be finished or very, close to being done with corn planting.  Soybeans appear to only be about half planted.  This recent rain gave most, but not all of the Burrus footprint, a rest. Many are starting to be able to row corn and soybeans this week.  No worries as of yet, we still have time to finish planting before mid-May without losing yield potential.  The planting date only accounts for about 11 percent of total yield potential of corn.

Some have commented recently that the April 21st planted corn (and soybeans) emerged quicker than corn planted on April 13th.  This has everything to do with Growing degree days (GDDs) or heat units.  It takes approximately 100-120 GDD's for corn to emerge and soybeans can emerge with 90 GDD's.  The 8 days between the April 13th and April 21st planting date only differed around 50 GDD's in Springfield IL and Chillicothe, MO.  In DeKalb, IL, there was only around 10 GDD difference!  Sorry, Southern Illinois, I was not able to find a good example of total recorded GDD's for you.

Planting date GDDs to date 8 day Difference
Springfield, IL 4/13/2018 224  
  4/21/2018 176 48
Chillicothe, MO 4/13/2018 221  
  4/21/2018 177 44
DeKalb, IL 4/13/2018 150  
  4/21/2018 139 11

Percent corn planted as of 5/4/18

Percent soybeans planted as of 5/4/18

Friday, April 27, 2018

Percent Planting Completed in the Burrus Territory - 4/27/18

We recently polled the Burrus Account Managers and had them give us their best estimate of percent planting of corn that has been completed in the Burrus territory.  Below, you can see of those that reported, the highest percent of planting appears to be in the west.  This area, of course has been a bit warmer, but also missed some rains, which allowed for a broader planting window.  On the other hand, planting has just begun in the last couple of days to the north.  Many are also still concerned about the possible freeze warning over the weekend, especially as you move north.  There could be a lot of field work completed between now and the middle of next week, when rain is in the forecast.   
Map created by Michelle Sandman
As for percent soybeans planted, here what was reported:
Randy McCaskill:  25%
Ross Brockhouse:  20%
Riley Young:  10%
Corey Rimbey: 10%
Ted Ballard:  10%
Zach Whitehille:  10%
Jim Allen:  5%
Colby Reilson:  5%
Quinn Moller:  5%
Erin Holbert:  5%
Joe Fletcher:  5%
Mathias Hoffman:  5%
Brian Bredeson:  5%
Brent Angelo:  5%
Jeff Hyde:  5%
Donny Marnin:  5%
Jordan Watson:  5%
Ross Kleinsteiber:  5%
Rick Urish:  5%
Rob Church:  5%
Jeff Seckler:  1%
Brad Kufalk:  1%

Be safe out there! 
Stephanie and Jamie

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Prepping for #Plant18 Success

Every year, growers across the country begin preparing for planting season. We’re all familiar with the usual pre-plant chores. However, this article isn't meant to discuss things such as soil preparation or fertility.  No, the purpose of this article is to address the essential preparation of your equipment and technology that every grower needs prior to dropping the planter down in a field.

This time of year, everyone is anxious to get started planting and the recent weather pattern hasn’t helped relieve this anxiety. Instead, the energy just builds until everyone is about to come unglued. But all this pent-up energy can quickly turn to frustration if you end up experiencing problems with your equipment or discover too late that your precision data is not ready.

That’s why it’s always important to plan for success by ensuring your equipment and precision data are ready well in advance of planting season. This is the best way to guarantee success when it is time to put the seed in the ground. You’ve got too much at risk to not take the steps necessary to get this #Plant18 right. Here are some thoughts for you as you prepare for planting:

1. First and foremost, get yourself and your operation organized. Prioritize tasks and identify ones with which you need to enlist help on. If you have tasks that need others' assistance, be sure to get them set up as soon as possible.  If you need their help, it’s a good bet that others do too. So, don’t wait to the last minute.

2. Ensure you have a properly leveled toolbar - it's essential to the function of your row units.

3. Differences in soil as you move across a field make checking your down pressure imperative. This is of course something that isn’t set-it and forget-it. You should evaluate your down pressure all planting season, field by field to ensure proper seed placement.

4. Check and adjust your seeding depth.  Every year, you should make a zero adjustment to your press wheels.

5. Ensure your row cleaners are set properly. Remember, their purpose is to remove trash and residue from the front of the row unit. 

6. To ensure optimum seed-to-soil contact is obtained, check and adjust your seed firmers and see that close wheels are aligned behind the row unit properly. 

7. Check that your starter or two-by-two pumps are in working order. 

8. Don’t forget to make sure that your field data is loaded and ready to go on your monitor.

9. Verify all these adjustments are at the speed you normally plant. Varying planting speed can adversely impact your hard work. Doing this will ensure consistency in your planting.

10. Lastly, pay attention to soil conditions. 

After planting is completed, it’s important to validate that your equipment performed as you had expected.  Monitor crop progress throughout the year and document your findings to ensure you met prescription, planning and profit objectives.  With the uncertainty of today’s market, you need to extract every drop of value from every acre and every input. Managing each acre independently is imperative to your operation's success. Capturing data on soil type, soil texture, fertility, soil moisture, planting conditions, populations, product placement and yield history are all integral pieces of the puzzle that is ROI. Your Burrus team is here to partner with you to ensure that you achieve success year after year and build profitable operations for generations to come.

Troy Horton
Burrus Seed Precision Planting Specialist

Friday, April 13, 2018

Cover Crop Termination Tips

The calendar says it is the second week in April, but recent weather conditions suggest otherwise.  Cool, wet soils have halted field work throughout the Burrus footprint, but we are hopeful we will be able to get into the field soon to plant, apply fertilizer, apply a burndown, etc.  For growers with cover crops, there is also an additional step – terminating that cover crop.  Being able to adequately terminate your cover crop is essential to the success of your cash crop.  Most commonly, a herbicide program is used to control the cover crop. Helpful tips to ensure success are below.

1. Herbicide selection
Herbicide selection can be dependent on which cover crop you used.  It is important to know what species you have in your mix to get the most control.  For instance, a dense stand of cereal ryegrass will not be controlled with 2,4-D products. Glyphosate is a commonly used active ingredient which is non-selective.  For added broadleaf control of possible broadleaf cover crops or broadleaf weeds, the addition of a growth regulator type herbicide can give added control.  If you are applying the herbicide prior to planting the cash crop, know plant back restrictions (see chart below).  If you are applying the herbicide in-crop, know which herbicide tolerance your crop has.

Purdue University Extension

2. Cover crop growth stage
Although we know there are numerous benefits to using cover crops, when it comes to termination, we must think of them as a weed.  By this I mean we want to apply the herbicide when we would apply it to weeds, therefore follow height and growth stage restrictions or adjust rates accordingly.  Plants that are jointing or bolting are more difficult to kill. Therefore, other means of termination may be warranted.

3. Weather conditions
For the best herbicide efficacy, the plant needs to be actively growing otherwise you will not get adequate control.  For the plant to be actively growing we typically recommend temperatures greater than 50 degrees.  This does not mean one day above 50 degrees, but multiple days to have the plant active and therefore taking up the herbicide.  Timing becomes important here because as we start warming up, the cover crop will begin actively growing and will rapidly gain size, making the herbicide possibly less effective. 

With the delay of planting, growers are going to be rushing around trying to get field work completed in a timely fashion.  If you do have cover crops, make sure that you are prepared to properly terminate them to prevent weeds in your cash crop.  As always, if you have any questions about cover crop termination reach out to your Burrus Sales Agronomist.

Jamie Long, CCA-RMS
Burrus Sales Agronomist

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Soil Health Class: Can we meet in the middle?

Several months ago, my former junior college, LLCC ag teacher (Dick Lyons), nominated me for a second round of “soil health training”.  A month later, I received the email saying, “Thank you for applying to participate in the upcoming Advanced Soil Health Training, sponsored by IL Corn Growers, Ag Conservation Solutions, and The Nature Conservancy.  We are excited to welcome you to join us this year! Your application showed dedication to advancing soil health systems in Illinois, and we look forward to having your unique expertise and perspective in the group.” 

Everywhere I turn, “soil health” seems to be the new buzz word.  When I arrived to my first classroom experience, I did not know what to expect, but I soon learned that the agenda was packed full of positives of no-till and cover crops for the soil and ecosystem.  There is nothing wrong with this, but the training took on what I would call a “sales approach” and with my University Extension background, I was hoping for more of an unbiased training.  Our room was filled with instructors from the USDA, NRCS and American Farmland Trust as well as farmers, agronomists, ecologists, biologists, and conservationists.  There were video cameras everywhere!

It did not take long until I got this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It was the same feeling I got a long time ago when I was in graduate school.  I was studying plant pathology (study of plant diseases).  Back then, I loved microbiology and my microscope, so I was really excited to take Mycology (study of fungi) with some of the other Crop Science students.  A few days into the mycology course, I realized 2 things: our professor was brilliant and the mycology students shunned the crop science students.  They labeled us as “fungi killers.”  I had never really thought of myself as a killer before.  Heck, I was just trying to feed the world.  But, it did give me a whole new fungal perspective, which was good.

Barry Fisher, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) taught us some visual ways to show the positive aspects of long-term no-tilled soil (left) showing no sediment compared to conventional tilled soil (right), which produced sediment after a "big rain." No-till is one tool to help keep our soil (and some nutrients) in place.
 Barry Fisher, NRCS shows us by pouring water (heavy rain event) and letting it infiltrate conventionally tilled soil, it creates cloudy water in the glass on the right.  This is erosion or sediment is what can change our landscape.  Soil health is the continued capacity of a soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.   

A positive perspective on cover crops and how they relate to soil health is just what I needed after being called out on many “negative” field calls last year. It is obvious more farmers than ever are trying their hand at cover crops.  Many have been successful but others have given up too easily when things don’t go their way.  The truth of the matter is that not every farmer manages their farm in the same way.  Many farmers may not be utilizing cover crops, but are implementing many other different strategies to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss.  So far, I have learned a lot, especially from actual farmers, and continue to keep an open mind.  I hope to share with you my thoughts on what I would label as “farmer, pesticide, and nutrient misconceptions” as well as some agronomic red flags. And yes, my hope, after much thought, is that we can meet in the middle.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Higher Populations Do Not Always Equal Higher Yields

One of the most critical decisions a farmer must make each spring is what population to set the planter. This decision can make an enormous difference in overall performance in both yield and standability. All too often, growers like to set their planter at the start of planting season and leave it there while planting all their acres. This is not how to optimize the full potential of each seed. We all know the price of seed has gone up over the last decade, making it even more important to maximize inputs.

Most have heard growers can increase corn yields by increasing planting population, that isn't always the case. As corn genetics become more and more complex, we need to start treating different hybrids differently. Some hybrids have a fixed ear, meaning no matter how good the growing conditions are, the ear isn't going to be any larger than a predetermined size. Others, however, are considered flex eared; these hybrids can flex the size of the ear to make the most out of a good year. Flex hybrids also have the advantage of being able to help compensate for a row with gaps or uneven stand. Fixed eared hybrids usually respond better to a higher planting population, whereas with a flex hybrid you typically don't see an increased yields with an increased seeding rate.  You are often just increasing the plant to plant stresses with no added benefit.

Each year, the Burrus research team runs a series of population studies replicated 14 times in different environments. In this study, we place our current products as well as promising experimental products ranging in populations from 21,000 seeds/acre to 46,000 seeds/acre. This study, year after year, gives us the best planting rate for each hybrid to help maximize yields, manage risks, and optimize seed cost per acre. Yield is only one factor when looking at the data from this study Another important component is overall standability. When planting populations are increased, plant to plant stresses which will make the plant more susceptible to root lodging and stalk lodging are also increased. These different components are considered when making a planting population recommendation.

Another factor to consider when making your seed selection, along with product and price, should be seeding rate. With tighter margins in the agriculture sector, growers are starting to make more of their decisions based on price, which is understandable in these economic times. But to get the full picture, look at the price of seed on a per acre basis instead of per bag. Many of our competitors are recommending populations nearing 40,000 seeds/acre. Having to plant at these high populations to maximize yields makes the seed much more expensive, even if the seed is substantially cheaper per bag. 

As an example, let's look at hybrid A which has a recommended planting population of 38,000 seeds/acre and costs $260/unit, and hybrid B which has a recommended planting population of 32,000 seeds/acre and costs $300/unit. At first glance, many growers would choose hybrid A at a savings of $40/unit. However, once you take the seeding rate into consideration, you realize that on a per acre basis hybrid A costs $123.50/acre while hybrid B costs only $120/acre. That savings of $3.50/acre make hybrid B the better value even though the price per bag is higher. These differences change dramatically depending on cost and planting rates, but we implore you to take the time to run a cost per acre analysis when making your decisions.

With all that being said, price should not be your only consideration when making a seed selection. Every farm should diversify their portfolio with both offensive and defensive products. Burrus' Corn Planting Rates chart will assist you with getting our hybrids at the ideal planting rates for your soils. Each of these hybrids have been tested in a range of populations, across different soil types, over several years to place them in the corresponding categories (A, B or C planting ranges). This will not only help you reach the highest yields across your farm, but it will reduce the risk across your farm as well. This is just one more example of the true passion of the Burrus mission statement: "To provide quality seed, consistent performance, and exceptional value ensuring the ongoing success of our customers."

By Josh Gunther, Product Lead

Monday, January 22, 2018

Flag Your LibertyLink® Fields

New soybean technologies have helped control herbicide-resistant weeds and allow growers to select the technology that will work best on their farm.  The freedom to use multiple technologies is great for soybean growers, but it can cause some headaches when there is no way of telling which technology is planted where.  Furthermore, application restrictions associated with the geographic relationship of dicamba tolerant soybeans to non-dicamba tolerant soybeans makes it even more important to know what is planted throughout the countryside.  At Burrus, we have encouraged growers to use the Flag the Technology system, created by the University of Arkansas, to not only let you know what technology is planted, but also let your neighbors know. 

We are excited to announce a new joint effort with Bayer CropScience for the 2018 growing season. We will provide one LibertyLink® flag per box or pallet of LibertyLink seed purchased (partial pallets not included).  This amount of seed covers approximately 60 acres which represents the average field size throughout our Burrus footprint. Flags are also available for purchase if you have smaller field sizes, are planting a different technology, or if you did not purchase the qualifying amount – ask your Account Manager for specific details. 

We advise placing the flag near the field entrance immediately following planting the soybean field.  This will help growers keep track during busy times of the season and will also let neighbors know what technology you have planted when they/their applicator makes a herbicide application.

We believe this program will help reduce confusion throughout the growing season for the grower, applicator, and neighbors. If you have any questions regarding this program contact your Burrus Account Manager.   

Jamie Long, C.C.A.
Burrus Seed Sales Agronomist

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Can Cold Winter Hinder Crop Disease?

Many have been talking about how the winter will affect populations of overwintering insect pests, but how will this cold winter affect the incidence of crop disease? 

Fungi can tolerate the range of temperatures that typically occur in the place where they have taken up residency. So, fungal disease pathogens that have made a home in the Midwest, generally have developed the ability to tolerate our cold, winter temperatures. Fungi have figured out several ways to survive cold temperatures, and many produce special survival structures that are thick walled, which can survive extended cold periods as well as extremely dry conditions, within residue or in the soil. 

This picture is courtesy of

The Disease Triangle: a plant pathological paradigm revisited

It depends on the type of fungus, but typically most fungi require some basic items: respiration, nutrients (nitrogen or other minerals), water, light (but not in most cases), and specific temperatures. 
Spring and summer bring warmer temperatures for fungi to become active and produce spores once again. However, most plant pathogens that cause disease require an even more narrow range of specific temperatures before they will sporulate (produce spores) or initiate infection. Fungal spores, of course, are one of the main ways that fungal pathogens spread among crops. 

Don't forget that some fungal disease pathogens do NOT overwinter here in Illinois. Most rust disease pathogens require a living plant for survival, and these are more abundant in the South during the winter.  Rust spores blow up from the South and under the right conditions, can infect plant hosts during our growing season. Some examples of rust diseases that infect corn are common rust and southern rust. Soybean rust can be an issue on soybeans, but, fortunately, this disease has not been a yield reducer in the Midwest. Soybean rust has infected soybeans in the Midwest, but historically has been found late in the season, which is not cause for alarm at this time. 

Up close picture of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi)  pustules on a soybean leaf. Picture taken by Mike Meyer.
The good news is that a severe winter in the South, where rusts overwinter, could decrease the amount of spores that are blown into "our neck of the woods". This is because the colder winter temperatures in the South can decrease the amount of living plant material, where these rusts are overwintering, which in turn, causes the demise of the rust pathogens. Reduced amounts of corn and soybean rust disease in the South will most likely mean less rust spores will make their way North. However, it is hard to predict the future, and rust disease scouting should continue throughout the growing season. Track the movement of both Southern rust on corn and soybean rust as they infect and spread on crops in the US at the iPIPE website.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Combine Management Strategies for High Soybean Yields

On July 19, 2017, the Illinois Soybean Association’s ILSOY Advisor Field Day took place in Roseville, IL on the farm of Ron Moore, current President of the American Soybean Association (ASA).  As a presenter, I spoke with growers answering questions about incorporating management strategies to increase soybean yields.  The foundation of this discussion was Dr. Fred Below’s Six Secrets of Soybean Success, but was focused on remaining profitable and sustainable in the future.  

Stephanie Porter and Tom Corbin representing Burrus Seed at the ILSOY Advisor Field Day.
(photo courtesy of Jill Loehr, Prairie Farmer)
1.      Weather
Weather is the #1 influence on soybean yields.  We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can plant early to obtain more sunlight or photosynthesis.  Plant at the same time as corn, but make sure the soil is fit.  Next, look at the extended forecast and do not expose to temperatures below 50° F for the first 24-48 hours during their rapid water imbibition period. After this time, soybeans should be tolerant to cold but there can still be a frost risk after emergence, especially moving north.

2.      Fertility
Hands down, fertility has been most instrumental when it comes to obtaining soybean yields above 60 bu/a. In the past, our fertility program centered around corn and our soybeans often got the “leftovers.”  Recent research has focused on fertility needs of soybeans at key times during the growing season.  Soil test often and supply soybean crops with P (phosphorus) and K (potassium), so they are not limiting factors of yield. 

3.      Foliar protection
Because most soybean yield (60 – 80%) comes from the middle of the plant (nodes 5 – 16), it is vital to protect that yield by applying a fungicide or insecticide at the growth stage R1 – R3.  Canopy protection is needed to protect critical reproductive growth stages (R1 – R5). Soybean varieties can differ in disease and aphid tolerance, and scouting fields throughout the growing season will guide economic foliar management decisions.

Limited soybean yields were not attributed to a single insect in 2017, but rather a combination of pests.
4.       Genetics
The rate of soybean genetic gain has increased with investment and new breeding methods. When planting early, growers should choose the right variety that is a fuller maturity to increase yield. Since early planted soybeans will have a longer time to grow before bloom, they may grow taller; therefore, a reduction in planting populations is suggested not only to help encourage branching (more nodes/pods) and reduce lodging, but also to alleviate some disease issues.

5.      Row arrangement
Many university studies have shown that narrow row soybeans produce higher yields.  Dr. Below’s work has also shown crop yield in narrow rows is more responsive to increased management as discussed throughout this article.

6.      Seed treatment
When planting early, seed treatment such as PowerShield® for sudden death syndrome (PS SDS) is a must not only for root rot protection, but also for management of SDS and early control of soybean cyst nematode (SCN).  Don’t forget the insecticide (neonicotinoid) can not only increase vigor, but also manage early season insects, such as bean leaf beetle.
A systems approach of many different management strategies is required when seeking high soybean yields, but factors such as field drainage, proper pH, planting depth (1.5 - 2 inches), and weed control should not be ignored. We want each soybean plant to be a factory with efficient production, while overcoming potential limiting factors. When thinking high soybean yields, one must be willing to take risks to earn rewards, while incorporating good agronomics for success.