Sunday, July 17, 2022

Soybean Crop - a mid season recap/rant

[deep breath; here we go........]

So what happened? I've gone over these details many times in my head, as there isn't much else to do when you're making multiple passes over the same ground in the tractor while looking at the results of what you've done.  [listening to EspaƱol con Juan podcasts is a good diversion]

the short version: the beans have been poor so far and they don't look like they'll get any better. I didn't talk about the corn in this post, but it is in good shape. The peas (ahead of Kernza) were overrun with weeds. The Kernza gets planted in a few weeks.


Delayed application of inputs: lime and turkey litter because spreader was busy. Untimely spring rains didn't help.

My higher HP tillage tractor - a Case 7140 - had a bad hydraulic leak and was at the mechanic's for 3 weeks, forcing me to find/use a "custom" operator who missed some important details re:weed termination, while also beating up my disc

My Deere 520 20' wide flail mower also broke down, leaving me with a 5' wide bush hog to mow my pre-plant weeds on 165 acres. Impossible to do. Six weeks later, the mower hasn't been fixed, only evaluated (the verdict is that one of the two rotors is slightly imbalanced causing the whole implement and tractor to shake when you get up to 1600 rpm; the normal operating/cutting shaft speed of the mower is 2000 rpm and when you take the engine up there the shaking mostly goes away)  by the local Deere mechanic. They are very busy. I still need it to mow escaped weeds; I hope it holds up.


I maintain my equipment to a fairly high standard and almost all pieces are "middle aged" in terms of their useful life. Unfortunately this year I had multiple failures. I am a decent mechanic, sort of intermediate level compared to the Deere guys, but I only have 2 hands and so many hours in the day.


A cover crop of red turnip that shockingly overwintered, leaving 4' tall plants that had to be broken down using the above constraints, prior to planting soybeans.

A very large increase in the time I had to spend crossing the fields to do all of the above, leading to missing/mis-timed passes with the tine weeder, causing weeds to appear in the rows.

In order to balance my rotation among corn/beans/wheat/kernza over 300 acres spread out over a 13 mile radius, I planted an extra 65 acres to beans this year. This meant a lot more travel, and time got eaten up.

Most importantly, a very poor stand of beans on about 75% of the acreage. We think this is because of bad seed, for which I'll get a relatively minor (~ 5% of revenue loss) credit from the seed company.

Not having the income from the above is bad enough. However I still had to pay for all the input costs. Plus my time.

I work just as hard whether the beans are growing or not. If anything its a little tougher mentally right now because I have to manage/till/mow weeds in a failing crop to keep them from going to seed.

I'm not sure what I'll get as far as yield. I'll probably end up getting my input costs back.

Organic crop insurance would have paid something this year, if I were to have bought it, which I've done once in seven years. That said, the premium paid versus coverage received is horrible so I probably would have come out slightly better financially this year. It's a very different proposition to conventional crop insurance. Yes, the "experts" are working on it, but that's been happening for a long time with few changes.

Should I "publish" this/make it public? why not, it does me no good sitting in my head..


  1. We're glad for the rundown, as miserable as it must make you feel. Rough go of it this year. Re this: A cover crop of red turnip that shockingly overwintered...was that due to warmer winter temps? From what I know about the deep deep cold up there, it doesn't seem like it could be, but we are a heating planet. Anyway, love from us and hang in there. H2+Art

    1. Could be warmer winter temps, though this far north should have been cold enough to kill them. My idea is that the seeds sat dormant from when they were drilled last summer. " I left the following summary below this video -
      Grass Creek Farm @ Turtle Lake
      1 month ago (edited)
      We've figured out its the purple top turnip that was part of the cover crop I seeded last August. The mix I put in included 2 lb/acre of both radish and turnip which I put in the small grass seed box of my 750 Deere drill. The other, larger seeds - leftover wheat, winter peas, some leftover sorghum sudan, sunflowers - went in the large/main drill seed box. The larger seeds were planted 2" deep, the brassicas dropped on the surface and pressed in by the gauge wheels on the drill.
      I changed this after seeing that the turnips weren't dropping down the seed tubes from the grass seed box because at such a low seeding rate the seed cups on the grass seed box were almost shut and prevented the slightly larger seed from flowing. I sifted out the turnips from the radish and put the turnip seeds into the larger seed box, where, along with the other varieties, they would be drilled at 2" deep.
      I didn't think too much of the fact that I didn't see many turnips. I think what happened is they were so deep they never got a chance to germinate and so sat dormant for the winter, coming up in the spring.

      **It's just a theory, but I think this is a useful way to get an over winter/early spring cover established after wheat/before corn or soybeans. **"