6/22/2013 7:00 AM
By Teresa McMinn Southeastern Pa. Correspondent
MANHEIM, Pa. — Kaycee Browell carefully stepped along a soil row to avoid young plants as she counted and calculated a field’s soybean population.
Browell, a Penn State Extension intern sponsored by the Pennsylvania Soybean Board, was in Lancaster County, Pa., recently to help with a soybean field workshop.
The event, part of a two-hour series of workshops, was offered by Penn State Extension to help soybean farmers from across the state improve their crop production.
About 15 soybean growers were at the workshop, held at Penn State Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which included a field evaluation and information about weed, insect and disease identification and control.
Jeff Graybill, Penn State Extension agronomy educator, talked of last year’s healthy soybean harvest.
“I did better with soybeans than corn,” he said of his farm in Lancaster County.
Other topics discussed included soybean fertility and deficiency symptoms, row width and scouting guidelines.
Participants at the event were given diagnostic guides and other reference materials courtesy of the state’s soybean board.
Growers who were at the workshop may revisit the field as the soybean crop matures in order to study progress, Graybill said.
He discussed the importance of testing soil pH and checking for surface acidity in order to calculate the right amount of lime to use on a soybean field. If pH levels drop below 6.0, the crop can suffer, he said.
In general, Penn State Extension recommends soil pH should be maintained in the range of 6.5 to 7.0.
According to the Extension’s website, “Soybeans need a high level of fertility to produce a good yield.” A 50-bushel-per-acre crop of soybeans will remove approximately 40 pounds of phosphate, 80 pounds of potash and about 200 pounds of nitrogen obtained from nodules on the roots and residues in the soil, the site states.
Graybill said soil testing is also valuable to determine correct potassium levels.
He also said there’s a current trend among growers to plant shorter maturing soybeans earlier in the season.
“There’s a myth that beans are sensitive, but I think they’re more hardy than corn,” he said.
Graybill also encouraged growers who practice no-till farming to consider planting soybeans in 15-inch-wide rows.
“Soybeans are somewhat forgiving,” said John Bray, a Penn State Extension field and forage crops specialist.
By August, the plants in the Lancaster field could “bush out,” he said.
Bray said top soybean-producing areas of Pennsylvania include Berks, Lancaster, York and Franklin counties.
“Every country in the world is growing soybeans,” he said adding a lot of seeds come from South America.
Bray also talked of a problem soybean farmers face with noxious plants — which can rob soil of nutrients — including horseweed that have become resistant to herbicides such as Roundup.
New varieties of hardier soybean seeds could be available next year, Bray said.
“That’s the hopeful release time,” he said.
To learn more, call the Lancaster Extension Office at 717-394-6851.<\c> LF20130622 McminnSoybean1
Photos by Teresa McMinn
John Bray, Penn State Extension field and forage crops specialist, and Kaycee Browell, Penn State Extension intern, calculate soybean plant population during a field workshop to help soybean growers from across the state improve their crop production.
Jeff Graybill, center, Penn State Extension agronomy educator, leads a recent soybean field workshop held at the Penn State Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Lancaster County, Pa.