Sustainability

Ground Work 2021: Planting Double-Crop Soybeans in Kentucky

We had a short break of a couple weeks at the beginning of June before we were busy in the field again. We started winter wheat harvest on June 18, and we started planting our double-crop soybeans on June 19.

For 10 days, I managed the chaos of harvest and planting. We typically have two combines harvesting, with two grain carts carrying the harvested wheat to trucks at the edge of the fields. Those trucks haul the wheat to our storage bins. Behind the combines, we applied a herbicide to control weeds. And as soon as that herbicide was applied, two planters got our soybeans planted directly into the wheat stubble.

After a cool, wet spring, the weather warmed up and cooperated well while we were in the field. We were only rained out once during harvest and planting, when about 7.6 cm, or 3 inches, of rain came hard and fast. Just a day later, the fields were dry enough to allow us to continue working. We finished harvesting wheat on June 26, and we finished planting soybeans on June 28.

Typically, 10 or 11 people work together to make all that happen. In addition to keeping everyone on track, I usually plant soybeans. Leanne helps us move between fields, gets parts as needed, and keeps the crew fed. And our sons work with us, with one of them helping unload semis of wheat and monitoring our storage system.

Our wheat yields were really good – the best crop we’ve had since 2013. The quality was good, and after we finished planting soybeans, we started delivering wheat to the family-owned flour milling company that buys it. We haul our wheat either to their mill about 200 km, or 125 miles, southwest of our farm, or to their mill about 275 km, or 170 miles, northeast of our farm, near Cincinnati, Ohio. Their customers include McDonald’s, where the wheat flour is used to make biscuits.

The soybean went into the ground really well. On July 1, just after they were planted, our fields received between 2.5 and 4 cm, or 1 and 1.5 inches, of a rain that was perfect for the small soybeans. All our fields have emerged and they are looking good. Our double-crop soybeans are late Maturity Group 4 varieties that we expect to be ready to harvest by late October. We will apply herbicide for weed control in late July, depending on the weather and weeds that show up.

Our corn looks good, and it has started tasseling. That July 1 rain was timely for corn pollination.

Even while we are busy in the field, we continue to care for our pigs, breeding sows, taking care of newborn baby pigs, and weaning them as they get old enough. Our family is participating in the #MeatMeAtTheTable social media campaign from the Kentucky Livestock Coalition – check us out in this video.

Our goal is always to finish wheat harvest and soybean planting by July 4, Independence Day for the U.S. We don’t always hit that goal, but this year we did. We took a well-deserved break to visit family in Florida for that holiday.

Caleb Ragland

U.S. Soybean Farmer

Kentucky

Caleb Ragland and his wife Leanne farm with his father and brother near Magnolia, Kentucky.