Nutrition

Weather is always a challenge here, and it has remained hot

About Woody Green: Woody Green is a United Soybean Board director from Lynchburg, South Carolina. His wife, Diane, is a schoolteacher and they have three children, Francie, Suzanne and Weston. Woody grows seed soybeans and corn.

September 19, 2016

Our soybeans got some much-needed rain out of Tropical Storm Hermine, anywhere from six to eight inches. The heavy tropical winds did bring a couple big trees down. More rains are now forecast for our area from Tropical Storm Julia. Weather is always a challenge here, and it has remained hot. 

Woody Green’s soybeans thriving amidst tropical storms traveling through South Carolina.
Woody Green’s soybeans thriving amidst tropical storms traveling through South Carolina.

I’m monitoring soybeans for pests. As the caterpillar pressure subsides this time of year, stinkbugs moving out of cotton fields are often a menace to the soybeans. Scouting is unpleasant now due to mosquitoes that the rain from Tropical Storm Hermine brought. The mosquitoes have come out with a vengeance, and disturbing any foliage or grass brings trouble!

The past two years have brought us new pesticides that have reduced the number of sprayings for the worms that plague southern soybeans. They are effective for about three weeks, giving us a good window of protection without repeated sprayings.

We are preparing to spray cornfields to plant cover crop. We’d like to have the corn fields sprayed and start with the cover crops this week, but we’ll have to see what Tropical Storm Julia brings. Lowering pesticide use and planting cover crops are ways we are managing our crops to be more sustainable on the farm.

August 1, 2016

We are preoccupied with corn harvest this week, and the yields have been excellent. Our goal is to harvest the corn that is dry enough. We always push to finish corn harvest because of the risk of hurricanes through August and early September.

While soybean monitoring continues, corn harvest takes priority on Green’s farm in South Carolina.
While soybean monitoring continues, corn harvest takes priority on Green’s farm in South Carolina.

Even though the focus is on corn harvest, we are continually checking soybeans for insects. Irrigation has been running as needed. It has been painfully hot for the past few weeks and we need rain. Fortunately, we had some rain last night and we expect more thunderstorms this week.

It is interesting how sustainability has become such an integral part of USB’s mission.  The dialogue filters down to the farm level quickly. We are using soil moisture remote-sensing in irrigated soybeans this year. The data collected helps us manage irrigation to where and when it can most effectively be utilized by the crop.

July 18, 2016

We sprayed soybeans last week for weeds, primarily sicklepod. Heavy infestations of sicklepod can reduce soybean yields 60 to 70 percent or more. We also hand-pulled any pigweed that we found. Fields should now be fine for a little while, but we continually monitor for problems.

The best way we can protect our soybeans is to monitor for weeds and catch them early so the weeds don’t over-power the soybeans. We’re not far off from caterpillar season, so we will start scouting at the end of this week.

Green’s South Carolina beans are growing well amidst weed attacks.
Green’s South Carolina beans are growing well amidst weed attacks.

Out of the field, we are preparing equipment for corn harvest. Also, I will be attending the United Soybean Board (USB) meeting this week to hear about progress throughout the industry and help determine what projects USB will be working on in the next year.

The weather last week was tough, with daily highs nearing 100 degrees.  We sprayed in the mornings so as not to stress the soybeans. We did get several days of afternoon thunderstorms, which kept the crops from drying out too much.

I’m very pleased with how the soybean crop looks at the moment – but realize that can change quickly. We can manage for weeds and bugs, but are very dependent on favorable weather to have a quality crop.

With the advent of genetically-modified soybeans, we use much less herbicide than we did twenty years ago. In addition, what we use is much milder, yet we enjoy better results. This benefits both the land and the quality of the crop.

June 29, 2016

The primary concern now is weeds. We have a pigweed in this area, Palmer Amaranth, that can cause significant damage if not controlled. The weed grows very rapidly, 1-3 inches per day, and can grow to 8 inches tall. It is very competitive with crops and other weeds, thriving in the dry and hot weather we’ve been having.

Woody Green applies herbicide on his fields to protect the soybeans from weed damage.
Woody Green applies herbicide on his fields to protect the soybeans from weed damage.

We are spraying our earliest soybeans with herbicide. We use a different chemistry mix every year to help prevent weeds from becoming resistant to herbicide treatment. Our goal this week is to get the soybeans sprayed and work on some equipment maintenance issues.

Timing of herbicide use is important as control is most effective when the weeds are small. If all the weeds aren’t managed with herbicide, we go into the fields and hand-pull any remaining weeds so they do not spread their seed. One female Palmer Amaranth plant can produce more than a million small seeds that can easily spread by wind and farm equipment.

We are very careful to manage weeds showing any potential for herbicide resistance in this area, whether by varying mode-of-action products or hand-pulling any weeds that escape treatment.

Rain over the weekend has helped the crop grow through the recent dry and very hot weather. We have a chance of thunderstorms all week with less extreme temperatures, so we expect a good growing week for the soybeans.

June 17, 2016

I am making progress on planting and expect to finish this week. We are on time with getting all the fields planted, and may finish a little early.

The biggest challenge is the rain pattern we are in. We either don’t have any or we have too much. It makes it difficult to know what to do when. Where we’ve had too much rain, soil moisture is too high to plant. We don’t like to do a lot of tillage, but have had to work on the fields a little due to last fall’s extensive storms.

Week2We had an extremely hot weekend with temperatures in the upper 90s, and that set everything back a bit. Our soil on the east coast is very sandy and doesn’t retain much moisture. With the kind of heat we’ve had, it doesn’t take long for soil to dry out.

In addition to planting, we are running irrigation on the dry areas to make sure the beans get up. I did have to replant spots following the heavy rain storm we had on freshly planted fields. With seed in short supply, it is fortunate that I did not have to replant whole fields.

Most all of my fields are surrounded by woods, which provide habitat for deer. They prefer to eat soybeans over any other crop. Normally deer graze during the early or late hours of the day, but now I’m seeing a lot of deer come out mid-day in the 90-degree heat to eat, which is pretty unusual. It has been a surprise to see this much deer pressure.

June 6, 2016

Soybean planting just started last week. We had a weekend storm, so I’m now waiting for soil conditions to be right before continuing. I use an air seeder, so I expect that the heavy rains might have scattered some seed. If it did, I will have to replant some of the fields.

I normally grow all my soybeans for seed, however last fall’s weather has changed my crop plan. During tropical storm Bonnie last October, we received 24 inches of rain all at once, so some of the sprouting soybean seed may have drowned out. Our state saw a lot of ruined crops, including seed crops. With the lower supply of seed, I have increased corn acreage and am expanding varieties of soybeans.

Planting underway on Woody Green’s South Carolina farm.
Planting underway on Woody Green’s South Carolina farm.

Typically, I plant wheat as a winter cover crop. I use a stripper header made in the U.K. to leave tall straw in the field, which I then plant to soybeans. Due to the wet fall weather, I wasn’t able to put in wheat, but instead had a cover of rye and tillage radish mix. I use the cover crop to provide weed control and moisture retention. The crop has been burned down, so I can now plant soybeans into these fields.

My biggest challenge continues to be the wet weather. I’m monitoring fields to see when I can get back to planting, and see what fields I will need to replant. Farmers in my state typically don’t finish planting until the end of June, so as long as the weather cooperates, planting should stay on track.

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Lisa Humphreys
Lisa Humphreys

Communications Manager

U.S. Soybean Export Council

Lisa Humphreys is the Communications Manager for the U.S. Soybean Export Council.