Sustainability

Ground Work 2021: Protecting Soybean Yield and Quality in Illinois

This season continues to change constantly. In my area along the Mississippi River in the heart of the U.S. Midwest, we’ve had very dry conditions, flooding and lots of heat. We had another dry period, with the Mississippi River level falling back to just 1.7 m, or 5.5 feet, above minimum navigation levels, but thankfully some much-needed rain fell in early August.

My full-season soybeans are filling pods, and rain greatly helps at this stage. Some soybeans fields look better than others. At the beginning of August, I treated the best soybean fields, more than 145 hectares or 360 acres, with a mixture of fungicide and insecticide. The treatment was timed to protect plant health and support the development of high yields and high-quality soybeans as the pods develop and fill. Hot, moist conditions can allow diseases to thrive, and I wanted to protect the most promising fields from that. Because of field conditions, I again hired a helicopter to apply the fungicide and insecticide. However, I chose not to spray any other soybean fields.

The double-crop soybeans are still growing vegetatively. They are nearly .5 m, or 20 inches, tall. A few flowers are just starting to bloom.

The corn is filling out kernels on the ears. It looks good, and right now I am expecting it to make an average crop. Based on the weather in the area so far this year, I am guessing it will be ready to harvest in mid-September. But I realize a lot can change in the next month, depending on growing conditions.

With the crops focused on making grain, my focus has turned to getting ready for harvest.

I have been hauling winter wheat to the nearby grain terminal on the Mississippi River for export. I also am repairing equipment and getting storage bins ready for harvest.

Because I am just a short drive from downtown St. Louis, I will be hosting some attendees of the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange at my farm for a tour before the conference sessions. I am looking forward to meeting soybean customers both at the farm and during the conference, which I plan to attend after the farm tour.

If you plan to attend this event, please look for me. I am happy to answer questions about how U.S. soybean farmers like me raise a reliable supply of high-quality soy.

This field update is funded by the soybean checkoff. To share or republish part or all of this Ground Work 2021 article, please link to the original article and credit www.USSOY.org.

Daryl Cates

Daryl Cates grows soybeans, corn, wheat and double crop soybeans on his farm near Columbia, Illinois. He started farming with his father in 1980 after graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in agronomy. He currently serves as the secretary of the American Soybean Association and is involved in WISHH. He and his wife Sandy have three adult children, Drew, Brett married to Stephanie, and Megan.