Planting soybeans first should be considered
Soybean Corner: Planting corn first isn't an automatic decision anymore.
Mar 03, 2020
My son is convinced we should plant our first 500 acres of soybeans before corn. He wants to target April 10 to start. We’re not set up to plant corn and beans at the same time very easily. Should I make an executive decision and say no, we’re planting corn first?
The Indiana certified crop advisers answering this question are Gene Flaningam, Flaningam Ag Consulting, Vincennes; Greg Kneubuhler, G&K Concepts Inc., Harlan; and Bryan Overstreet, Jasper County Extension ag educator.
Flaningam: Optimal soybean yields can be achieved by planting early. It will be well worth your time to plant some of your soybeans first. Early plantings will allow your soybean plants to receive the maximum amount of sunlight and carry out photosynthesis during the reproductive stages. Mid-June is usually some of the longest days of the year. It would be optimal to have your soybeans establishing pods during this time period.
You have the option to plant soybeans for about three to four days, then switch to corn — thus allowing your soil conditions to improve before you plant corn. Your corn needs optimal planting conditions for uniform emergence. Added time should allow soils to warm up and dry out before planting your corn.
Kneubuhler: I could side with both you and your son. I’ve always said, for years, that my priority is on planting corn, as that is your high-input acre. When the season begins, I want to get the corn planter going. It’s always takes the first day to get the bugs worked out and things dialed in from a logistics standpoint. I would get the corn planter going, but on the second day, the bean planter better be rolling. Data has shown that earlier planting dates on soybeans generally do pay off.
I can support planting soybeans first just to give them as many long days of vegetation as possible. Soybeans flower and contribute vegetation based on day length. The more days you give them ahead of the summer solstice, then theoretically, they have the potential to stack on more nodes and more pods. I wouldn’t ever say either of you is right or wrong, but early-planted soybeans over the course of time will perform better than later-planted soybeans.
Overstreet: Many studies have shown over the years that we can and should be planting soybeans earlier than we traditionally did in the past. Most recent studies show that we should be planting soybeans the same time as we do our corn crop. If we can only plant one crop at a time due to equipment or manpower, you may need to make your decision on economics. Which crop are you going to make more profit on by the benefit of planting a couple of days earlier? You may also look at which fields are ready to plant on April 10. That early in the spring, some of your fields may be better drained and ready to plant earlier. Are those cornfields or soybean fields in 2020?