Saskatchewan soybean growers probably shouldn’t expect sky-high yields, but insurance coverage has been expanded
Saskatchewan farmers growing soybeans this year probably shouldn’t bank on yields higher than 25 bushels per acre, says an agronomist.
“Drought and cooler temperatures can push that lower, whereas moisture and heat can push that higher. There are many agronomics practices we need to put into place before we have Saskatchewan growers consistently over that 25 bushels per acre mark,” says Andrew Chisholm.
Chisholm has been a DEKALB agronomist for five years, and has worked with corn and soybeans for 15 years. He sees heat and moisture as the biggest yield limiters in Saskatchewan.
Fall frost is also a potential problem, but Chisholm writes the right genetics and earlier seeding lessens the risk. Chisholm also suggests seeding into moisture (between 0.75 and 1.5 inches). He also suggests a burn down and early weed control, between the first and third trifoliate. To avoid salt injury, potassium and phosphorus should be applied the year before instead of being seed-applied. Farmers should also use inoculants and a full seed treatment.
“Those will definitely help the grower maximize yield.”
Genetics have improved greatly in the last five years, but farmers north of Highway 16 should be cautious, as they may not have the heat needed for maturity. Farmers living around Highway 1 and further south will likely have the heat and moisture to grow soybeans successfully. Southwestern Saskatchewan has the heat, but may not have enough moisture.
“The Sask. Crop Insurance map for soybeans is a good spot to start looking on whether your area is suitable to grow soybeans,” Chisholm says.
Insurable zone expands
Initially Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation only covered soybeans in southeast Saskatchewan.
“We were aware that there were producers trying soybeans outside of our insurable area. So based on that information we’ve expanded to the west part of the province all the way up to the Alberta border,” says Jeff Morrow, vice president of operations.
Each zone has slightly different yield coverage. In Zone 1, farmers can insure 21.5 bushels per acre. In the second zone, they can insure 18 bushels per acre.
“They would pick 50, 60, or 70 per cent of that yield. Eighteen times 70 per cent, for example, would be the coverage. And if it’s below that yield, we start paying out,” Morrow says.
Excess moisture kept insured soybean acres down to 4,400 in 2010, and 2,600 in 2011. But in 2012, 28,000 soybean acres were insured. Morrow says Sask. Crop Insurance gathers yield history from farmers each year and updates the long-term average yields accordingly.
“The yields in Zone 1 and 2 were based on actual producer historic data, whatever we could gather from producers. So that yield guarantee in Zone 2 was based on what producers had been growing and reported to us over the last few years.” †