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March 27, 2007

Despite rising corn prices, growers are still producing soybeans

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Despite the Midwestern ethanol boom and increased corn acreage and prices, Indiana farmers are still planting soybeans - and lots of them, said Shawn Conley, Purdue University soybean specialist.

"If we look at what we saw in 2006, 53 percent of the acres were soybeans and 47 percent were corn, so we were naturally going to see a shift to more corn in 2007," Conley said. "I can realistically, in Indiana, see 58 to 60 percent of the acreage being corn - that would only be a 5 percent shift of what we would have seen anyhow."

While some growers will weigh corn-on-corn options, the yield potential in some areas doesn't make it reasonable to plant the crop on the same acres every year.

"Most of the soybeans will probably be following corn, and will be in those areas where the yield potential for continuous corn is not as high," Conley said.

For many of the fields where growers will plant soybeans, Conley noted that farmers are noticing a positive yield trend with earlier-planted crops.

"In 2005, 27 percent of Indiana soybean producers started planting soybeans prior to May 1," Conley said. "When we asked growers why we were seeing this shift, they indicated higher yields with earlier-planted beans."

Although beans planted before May 1 have higher yield potential, growers need to be aware that crop insurance doesn't cover some early-planted soybeans.

"We just want to caution growers that if they purchase crop insurance, the earliest date they can plant soybeans and still be covered is April 21," Conley said. "They need to keep that in mind if they're using it to cover any frost or issues related to stand establishment."

Another consideration soybean growers must take into account is whether to complete spring tillage operations or to forego tillage and simply plant no-till.

"I think if we look at the current history of soybean production in Indiana, no-till beans into corn stubble has been an excellent system," Conley said.

While no-till crops can provide convenience to soybean producers, many of them are also finding convenience in weed control by using glyphosate (Roundup). With the rapid adoption of glyphosate-ready soybeans on the market, and an influx of glyphosate-ready corn varieties, many weeds are now developing glyphosate resistance, which Conley said could set farmers up for disaster down the road.

"We are looking at managing glyphosate resistance, so if producers are going to use glyphosate in managing soybeans, that tells us that they should diversify their weed control programs on corn to be sure to target the worst weeds with at least two modes of action," Conley said.

"Bill Johnson, our weed scientist, has done some very good work in looking at burn-down treatments - using some form of glyphosate and 2,4-D plus a residual herbicide prior to planting, putting soybeans into a clean field and then coming in with some form of glyphosate later."

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, (765) 494-6682,

Source: Shawn Conley, (765) 494-0895,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

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