By Top Crop Manager
A stressful soybean season for Ontario growers has come to an end with better than expected results, according to the 2019 Soybeans Seasonal Summary published by Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) field crop team.
The season started with an unusually wet spring that delayed planting, but shifted a lot of growers to plant soybeans instead of corn as a workaround. Poor winter wheat survival and delayed corn planting resulted in the largest soybean acreage on record, according to OMAFRA, at 3.1 million acres. Instead of planting in May, the majority of soybeans were planted in June.
While most soybean acres did get planted, over 300,000 acres were unseeded. Agricorp, Ontario’s crop insurance provider, issued its unseeded acreage benefit to help producers with fixed costs like taxes and land maintenance.
Despite the slow, wet start, Ontario soybeans turned out better than expected. According to the soybean summary, for growers who received good rainfall during the summer, their crop turned out to be above average because it received adequate moisture during key growth stages.
The provincial average for 2019’s season sits at 44 bushels per acre (bu/ac), with 41 per cent of insured growers having reported to date. The 10-year average for Ontario is 47 bu/ac.
Soybean summary highlights
OMAFRA’s field crop team shares what lessons can be learned from this year’s soybean season:
- Trials have shown a yield benefit to early planting, so growers moved to an earlier planting date. But this does not mean that soybeans must be seeded early to yield well or mature normally in the fall.
- An adapted variety still has over 90 per cent yield potential when seeded during the first half of June.
- For those that received good rainfall during the summer the 2019 crop turned out to be above average largely because of adequate moisture during key growth stages. This experience re-enforces the well-known adage that soybean crops are made in August.
- The general recommendation that has been used in Ontario is to consider switching to a shorter season variety if planting is delayed past June 15. The results of OMAFRA trials showed that when planting is delayed past the middle of June an adapted variety is still the best choice.
- A cereal rye cover crop will help to suppress Canada fleabane populations, which is a growing problem across much of Ontario.
- Waterhemp has spread further throughout the province during the 2019 season and can now be found in 11 counties (Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Essex, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northumberland and Wentworth). The use of pre-emergence herbicides is a critical tool for the management of waterhemp.
- Bean leaf beetle damage is on the rise in Ontario. There has been a decline in the use of insecticide seed treatments on soybeans over the last number of years which has contributed to this increase.
- A soybean crop will remove a significant amount of phosphorus and potassium from the soil. Ontario research has shown that fields low in both P and K will yield up to 20 bu/ac less than fields with adequate soil fertility especially in a poor growing season. Regular soil testing is the only way to manage soil nutrients properly.
Read the full soybean seasonal summary here.