By Matt Reese
It is the time of year where combines are rolling in wheat fields and being closely followed by planters and drills for double-crop soybeans. The heat really pushed the wheat crop in mid-June and provided an earlier than expected start to wheat harvest and a good head start on getting double-crop soybeans in the ground in southern Ohio.
The plentiful rains (that led to some later than desired planting and sidedressing and a even a few prevented planting acres) set the stage for potential wheat diseases, but also for a good start for double-crop soybeans, said Keith Summers, an insurance agent with Leist Mercantile in Pickaway County.
“There is some wheat coming off now. It turned quick. There is a little down from some of the winds, but it looks pretty good and I think the wheat quality is in pretty good shape,” Summers said. “I think most of the guys who are still planting wheat are double-cropping. The double-crop yields we have had here south of 70 have been phenomenal the last couple of years. It is not unheard of to get 40- and even 50- bushel yields with double-crops.”
Further south in Ross County, things were looking good for Greg Ramsey just outside of Clarksburg, who talked with Ty Higgins for a Cab Cam on June 19. Ramsey was planting double-crop soybeans around two weeks earlier than normal.
“We have plenty of heat and plenty of moisture that should make these beans pop out of the ground and give us a good second crop. The wheat has done pretty well. We thought we might have some issues with scab but it hasn’t been a big problem, at least not yet. I think the wheat will be a little above average this year,” Ramsey said. “It has been all about missing the rains down here. We have been fortunate. When everyone else has been getting 6 inches we have been getting 1 or 2. We have been getting regular rains, though, so that most of our corn is in that 6-foot range now and we are pretty happy with where we are on June 19.”
Ramsey was also able to get a jump on double-crop soybean planting by following barley harvest, which is typically earlier than wheat.
“This is our third year producing barley and we are hoping that becomes a mainstay in our operation. Barley provides a chance to get the beans in earlier,” he said. “We went straight from harvesting our barley fields to our wheat fields this year but there is potential to get double-crop beans in earlier after barley from year to year.”
When planting double-crop soybeans, relative maturity matters, according to Laura Lindsey, with Ohio State University Extension.
“Relative maturity has little effect on yield when soybeans are planted during the first three weeks of May. However, the effect of relative maturity can be larger for later planting dates,” she said. “When planting double crop soybean, the latest maturing variety that will reach physiological maturity before the first killing frost is recommended. This is to allow the soybean plants to grow vegetatively as long as possible to produce nodes where pods can form before vegetative growth is slowed due to flowering and pod formation.”
In terms of row spacing, Lindsey said 7.5-inch or 15-inch rows are best for double-crop soybeans.
“The later in the growing season soybeans are planted, the greater the yield increase due to narrow rows,” Lindsey said. “Soybeans grown in narrow rows produce more grain because they capture more sunlight energy, which drives photosynthesis.”
The harvest population for mid- to late June plantings should be between 130,000 and 150,000 plants per acre. Early July planting should be Harvest population for early July plantings should be greater than 180,000 plants per acre.
“Harvest plant population is a function of seeding rate, quality of the planter operation, and seed germination percentage and depends on such things as soil moisture conditions, seed-soil contact, and disease pressure,” Lindsey said. “In our double-crop soybean trials planted in June 2017, 250,000 seeds per acre was required to achieve a harvest population of 143,200 plants per acre due to excessive rainfall after planting. In July 2016, 213,000 seeds per acre was required to achieve a harvest population of 204,000 plants per acre.”
For more information on double-crop soybean production, see https://stepupsoy.osu.edu/soybean-production/double-crop-soybean-production-guidelines. Lindsey’s double-crop soybean research was funded by United Soybean Board and Ohio Soybean Council.