An area agronomist says growing soybeans can be an important part of a continuous corn system. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
BLOOMINGTON – Even though continuous corn is popular in Central Illinois, there are some good reasons to throw soybeans into the rotation every now and then.
That’s what more than 300 area farmers in attendance at a Dekalb/Asgrow Agronomy Day in Bloomington learned from territory agronomist Lance Tarchione.
Tarchione told farmers after three tough years of corn on corn across Illinois, it is important to take a look at high yield management of soybeans.
“We know we can make our corn better by raising some soybeans. The challenge is, hopefully the beans will be good the year that we raise them, as well,” said Tarchione.
It appears that growing corn year after year can make soybeans better. Farmers who have planted beans following three or four years of corn have seen a nice yield response from lengthening out that rotation compared to a traditional 50/50 rotation. In addition, genetics are changing quickly and a taking a few years away from soybeans can make a big difference.
“Soybean genetics have leaped forward in the last three or four years, I think. So we’ve got more yield potential in the varieties that the guys will be planting this spring. And then we’ve learned a lot more, too, about management practices that can drive soybean yields higher,” said Tarchione.
He believes 65-70 bushel soybeans are not out of the question, which can make growing that crop competitive with growing corn. Tarchione recognizes that three difficult corn years in a row have forced farmers to take more of a big picture approach.
“We’re always going to raise more corn in Illinois than we do soybeans. The saying ‘Corn is King’ exists for a reason. It’s still our favorite crop,” said Tarchione. “I’ve got a lot of producers I work with that are planting more soybeans this year, but they’re not exactly excited about that. We’re trying to get guys to see that the year of soybeans doesn’t have to be something you dread. It can be something you look forward to.”
While the agronomist knows the area is behind where it should be regarding moisture, he is not necessarily looking for a wet spring, which would promote soil compaction and disease. Tarchione would rather see a dry spring with timely rains through the summer. Getting enough moisture this spring to make up for last year would be too wet, in his opinion.
“An inch of rain at the right time in the summer made a 60, 70, 80 bushel difference in the corn yield, and kind of illustrated that we don’t have to have 10 inches of rain in June and July to raise really good corn,” he said. “We need to do things right at the start of the season, make the right decisions, have a good management system in place. Then if Mother Nature gives us two or three inches in June and two or three inches in July, we’ll be good.”
Carrie Muehling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.