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NorthStar News

What’s Your Plan B for This Spring?

Getting seed into the ground in a proper and timely manner is number one priority for growers each spring. Spring is typically very busy for farmers and industry, and this year there are incremental hurdles to overcome. It is well documented that due to our challenging fall there are ruts in fields, not all field work is completed, and not all fertilizer has been applied. Farmers have done their research and have a game plan, or multiple game plans.

What happens if things get delayed? Current field conditions, excess moisture, and pressure on logistics add to the risk of seeding being delayed.

“We want things to go according to plan for all growers. But if seeding is delayed or goes sideways somehow, we want growers to have a viable back-up plan. Soybeans will be able to help,” says Harry Davies of NorthStar Genetics. “If planting gets pushed into late May or into June, soybeans will provide growers with a solid option.”

“There are a number of ways to look at this, but let’s start from a fertility standpoint,” says Davies. “There’s no need for nitrogen when planting soybeans, so that’s one less delivery, one less pass, and one less worry.” Davies notes that phosphate and potash are still required, and you have options.

“Another important characteristic soybeans bring to the table is their average yield and seeding date relationship,” he explains. “As the seeding date is pushed back later and later, soybean yield is less negatively impacted versus other crops.”

Chart 1 (Seeding Date vs Average Yield Response) shows the relationship between seeding date and yield. The chart shows that as planting is delayed, yield potential decreases for all crops. However, soybean yield drops off less and more slowly than other crops, especially compared to cereals, canola, and corn.

It is important to understand crop insurance timelines for all crops. All Manitoba Crop Insurance areas provide full coverage up to May 30th, with Area One getting an additional seven days on top of that. Extended seeding coverage is available up to June 11th, depending on the crop insurance area.

Relative maturity is an important consideration when choosing which soybean variety to grow. Growers are experts at knowing which varieties perform best in their geography. But again, what happens if planting is delayed? In all areas of Manitoba, Davies says there is a variety that will be successful if planting is delayed to the end of May or the first week of June. “There is sufficient reliable data to show there is a variety suitable for late planting, which takes into account the first fall frost.”

Chart 2 shows the average fall frost (-20C is considered a killing frost for soybeans) in Manitoba based on 20 years of data.

“Using the date of planting together with the date of the first average fall frost for your area, you can calculate the total number of growing days,” says Davies. “With that information, we can find a variety that will work for your farm, which will also satisfy your own individual risk tolerance as a grower.”

“For example, if I am a grower who farms in the south Red River Valley, my options for planting on May 27th remain the same and there is no need to change my plan. I can plant a full season variety, such as NSC Winkler RR2X, with a high level of confidence, or anything earlier for that matter. If planting gets delayed into the first couple of days in June, to reduce my risk, I could switch into a slightly earlier maturing variety such as NSC Sperling RR2Y (or an earlier variety). If things get further delayed, and I’m now planting in the first week of June, I’d switch to NSC Redvers RR2X or NSC Watson RR2Y.”