Between 2010 and 2011, conditions at Saltcoats, Saskatchewan, were not as bad as they were for our neighbours to the north in 2010 or to the south in 2011. We had well above average rainfall both years, but it was worse in other places. With high commodity prices, we had incentive to get the crop in the ground.
It did not start on the right foot — we had over 30 centimeters of snow at the end of April. This, added to already saturated soil, set seeding back about three weeks. Our goal was to get the canola seeded by May 25 and the soybeans seeded by June 10. During the long weekend in May, while it was raining, I was inside working on my resumé — plan B was for me to get a job if we couldn’t seed.
We did get the InVigor canola seeded by May 25, and started seeding soybeans on June 1. We seeded into last year’s soybean stubble, using one and three-quarter inch hoe openers on our Bourgault airseeder. This year we seeded 29002RR soybeans on all of our acres. It is relatively daylight sensitive, and has low heat requirements. It’s podding height is very nice, higher than other varieties we have grown. We treated our seed with with CruiserMaxx Beans and Optimize, and seed-placed four pounds of TagTeam for Soybeans and six pounds of Soil Implant+ granular inoculant.
Seeding into the soybean stubble went well, we got most of the acres seeded. The cereal stubble was another situation. Trash on the surface did not allow it to dry out at all and caused a less than ideal seedbed. Needless to say, not all the acres got covered. One of the fields that was scheduled to be seeded to soybeans had water runing through it until the end of June. It got seeded to Rugged alfalfa and Response alfalfa varieties in July.
We finished seeding on June 8, except for the demonstration plot, which we finished seeding on June 10. One of our customers seeded around June 22 — their crop made maturity and averaged 25 bushels per acre with good quality.
Spraying was the next adventure. Most acres got just one pass. When we started the second pass, after getting our Rogator stuck, we decided that maybe that was enough ruts in the field. Weed pressure was low and, and it did not look like yield was going to be affected. Because soybeans tolerate moisture better than other crops and most weeds, they stayed ahead and competed well. The soil was warm, with lots of moisture so the soybeans were growing.
Soybeans in Alberta
In July I had the pleasure of touring around southern Alberta with Patrick Fabian, looking at the soybeans in Alberta. We covered an area from Medicine Hat to Carbon, Granum to Taber. It was a more normal year there, and things looked very good both on irrigation and dry land.
There were experiments on different farms, tweaking agronomic practices to improve adaptation. Most farmers with irrigation are going to 14-inch rows, with thoughts of going to a 21-inch twin row to compensate for cooler wetter summers. On the way back we stopped in at Kyle and Swift Current, Sask. to see how the fields looked there. Both of the fields we looked at were impressive.
Back home, we started monitoring for soybean aphids, as southern Manitoba was getting inundated with them. I didn’t see them here, or in Alberta. Our plants were stretching nicely, throwing up lots of flowers and pods. Podding height on the 29002RR was a comfortable 3 to 4 centimetres (1.5 inches) off the ground.
By September 8, spots in the field were starting to yellow up, signalling maturing was around the corner. We got our first killing frost September 18. We lost some of the top pods, but most made it. Most of the leaves fell off by September 25. By October 1, we had put the combines away for the year.
Our demonstration plots included some new Roundup Ready 2 (RR2) varieties along with some Roundup Ready varieties. We wanted to see how the varieties were adapted to our area for Iron Deficiency Chlorosis (IDC), daylight sensitivity, podding height, maturity and yield.
Although they were seeded late (June 9 and 10), most of the varieties made maturity without any trouble. LS003R22 was the latest of the bunch. It looked like it had good yield potential, but will be suited south of us. It is a semi-bush type of plant so will be suited to a wider row width (10-inches plus). The new variety from Thunder Seed, 32004R2Y, showed up with the same maturity as 27005RR with some good yield and pod clearance. Rosco was a bit of a surprise to me, with its final yield. Pod clearance was low, so wider than 10-inch rows would help harvestability.
29002RR was the earliest of the bunch and middle of the pack for yield. Overall, the Rosco and 27005RR topped the yield trial at 31.1 bushels per acre, 32004RR2 came in second at 29.9 bu./acre, then the 29002RR at 27.1 bu./acre and the LS003R22 was last at 24.5 bu./acre.
These are our results for 2011, with late seeding, near-normal heat and three times the normal rainfall. From seeding to August 25, we received 13 inches (330 mm) of rain and 1,950 crop heat units (CHU). Farmzone.ca does not record any CHU after the 25th of August, but I know we accumulated more after that.
In 2012 we anticipate growing 550 acres of soybeans — some RRs and some RR2s. There are a couple of new RR2s we want to look at, considering the daylight sensitivity, IDC, podding height, maturity and yield. Assuming a normal year, we’ll get back into working on some agronomic practices, foliar feeding, variety trials, tissue testing and new inoculants. With the price outlook, how can you go wrong growing soybeans? †