Research seeks to improve soybean performance in southwest Louisiana

Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce  |  10/23/2014 11:49:17 PM

AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell is working to help soybean farmers in southwest Louisiana improve their chances of harvesting a good crop.

Growing soybeans in that corner of the state can be a challenge because of the higher incidence of disease. In addition, rice farmers are less likely to plant soybeans on raised beds because of the additional costs.

Harrell is working to determine the best planting dates in a test at the South Farm of the Rice Research Station.

"We’ve only had one year of results so far," Harrell said. "It will require several years of work to get an optimum planting window."

Like farmers in the area, Harrell waits until adequate soil moisture is present before planting with a grain drill and 16-inch row spacing. He is not using raised beds or irrigation.

This year, he said, planting for the project was complicated with moisture extremes – either too many days without rain or heavy rainfall in just a day or two.

He planted 12 varieties using maturity groups III, IV and V on April 13, April 23, May 15, June 6 and June 17.

Last year, planting started on March 22 and ended June 12. The best yields were obtained from planting in the window between April 23 and May 23, Harrell said. He also is working on several soil fertility projects with farmer Kenneth LaHaye, of Evangeline Parish. The research is aimed at determining the optimum rates of potassium and phosphorus and the best time to apply them on soybeans.

Fertilizer was applied at planting, then again at growth stages V-1, V-3, V-5, R-1, R-3, R-5 and R-6. The optimum time for a fertilizer application is at planting, and any delay after that costs yield, Harrell said.

From this study, Harrell hopes to learn if a farmer can economically justify an application of fertilizer at midseason when a crop appears to be deficient in nutrients. Bruce Schultz

This article was published in the 2014 Louisiana Soybean & Grain Research & Promotion Board Report.

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