Battle for the Belt (mid-spring update)

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Check-off

There is still time to achieve good yields according to Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains Specialist. As work continues in the Battle for the Belt project, the spring rains have been a challenge in some parts of the state to get the crop in the ground.

“Things look surprisingly good today at the Western Ag Research Station in Clark County. Around April 22nd we had freezing temperatures, and we observed freeze damage on the early planted corn and soybeans,” said Lindsey. “We have 3 planting dates complete at this location. Those dates were March 25th, April 16th, and May 3rd. The May planting date is just emerging now.” The Battle for the Belt is taking place at three locations again in 2024. Along with the Western Ag Research Station, there are also plots in Wooster in Wayne County, and at the Northwest Ag Research Station in Wood County.

“At Wooster, we were a little behind compared to last year. We do have two planting dates completed at that location,” said Lindsey. “At the Northwest Ohio location in Wood County we don’t have any seed in the ground yet. We haven’t had a chance with the extremely wet conditions this spring and the heavy clay soils at that location.”

When asked about an early hypothesis, Lindsey is leaning toward an April planting date as the best for both corn and soybeans in 2024. “The March 25th planting date for soybeans may yield the same as the April 16th planting date. For the corn, the March 25 planting recovered from the frost, but I am noticing that the stand looks a little thinner and uneven,” said Lindsey. “In corn, having an uneven stand is not ideal.”

For those farmers that are still patiently waiting for the right field conditions to get their crop in the ground, Lindsey recommends planting corn first based on the results from the Battle for the Belt research. “At this point, if you don’t have anything in the ground, plant corn first,” said Lindsey. “We know from our research that as we study which crop should be planted first, we know that soybeans can be planted later and still be okay. Last year we had soybeans planted June 8th and they still yielded 71 bushels per acre. The 71 bushels per acre was not as good as 80+ bushel per acre yield in the April planting window, but it is still good compared to the potential loss in later planted corn.”

As the planting window gets later, Lindsey also recommends farmers consider adjusting their seeding rate for soybeans. “As we get into June, we recommend a higher seeding rate. You want to have a final stand of 130,000-150,000 plants per acre,” said Lindsey. “If you end up planting in June, consider bumping up your seeding rate. Also as the soil continues to warm up, the germination and emergence will also continue to speed up.”

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