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Testing soybeans in local conditions

Researchers at Syngenta’s Elm River research farm are looking at ways Manitoba producers 
can optimize production methods to get the best value out of their soybean acres

As more and more western Canadian producers introduce soybeans into their rotation, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about how to best make them fit.

Nobody is exactly sure how to best streamline production and determine ideal planting conditions, according to one seed specialist.

“There are a lot of factors when it comes to seeding, seed care, what producers are using to put that bean in, and, of course, the weather,” said Brett Graham, seed care specialist with Syngenta. “So, we are looking at the best way to optimize these factors for growers and really help them get the best value from their seed and seed care.”

Syngenta is currently conducting a few different soybean trials at its 160-acre research farm located in Elm River near Portage la Prairie.

A trial on Syngenta’s soybean seed treatments, Cruiser Maxx Vibrance Beans has been underway for the past two years.

The insecticide and fungicide seed treatment combination is said to offer growers protection from soybean aphids, seed corn maggot, wireworms, European chafer, bean leaf beetle, as well as seed- and soil-borne diseases, including, damping-off, seedling blight, seed rot and early root rot.

“There are major phytophthora genes in most of the genetics that are brought to market and that is the disease we see a lot of, especially in the Red River Valley,” Graham said. “On top of genetics, that is where your seed treatments can tie in and really bring your control up to the next level and really help these growers in tough springs where there is a lot of moisture and weather events coming in.”

With an on-site disease nursery, Syngenta researchers place the disease into the soil to make sure the pressure is present and then plant the treated seed.

“It is basically a way for us to evaluate how effective the treatments are on disease and really get an idea for the advantages. We start with plant counts and of course yield at the end of the season to understand the value,” Graham said.

He says phytophthora is the most present disease on the east side of the province.

“On the west side you do get some phytophthora but you do get some rhizoctonia showing up as well. They have a lot of canola grown out there and usually minimal till which can help move that disease along,” Graham said.

Syngenta will continue looking at Cruiser Maxx Vibrance Beans potential, but says trials from previous years have shown consistent performance under a wide range of adverse growing conditions and has improved yield potential due to better plant stands, root systems, uniformity and plant vigour.

Temperature over date

When it comes to the ideal seeding date of soybeans, Syngenta researchers say the date is not nearly as important as getting the right soil temperature.

“When we are doing planting time, what we consider early is below 5°. We considered normal planting time would be 10°,” said Marc Brown, soybean research associate with Syngenta. “We aim for two consecutive days of temperature, which we measure at 10 a.m.”

Graham explains that Syngenta has been looking at the productivity of different seeding dates for a number of years but has shifted focus towards early seeding in response to a growing trend in the industry.

“We have seen a trend in the industry that growers want to seed in sooner. There are some risks associated with that so we are trying to help them understand where the risks are and if they do make that decision, what do they need to look for and be doing to protect that investment in the seed to make sure they will have the best results in the end,” Graham said.

This year’s trial saw seeding on April 22 and May 18.

“When you are planting near April 22 you can definitely see a reduction in stand due to a number of factors. Because that seed is sitting in the soil for a few weeks you are a little more susceptible to disease,” Brown said.

According to Brown earlier planting has shown greater lodging, potential for more disease and a higher risk of frost.

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Paige is a reporter centred in southwestern Manitoba. She previously wrote for the agriculture-based magazine publisher, Issues Ink and was the sole-reporter at the Minnedosa Tribune for two years prior to joining the Manitoba Co-operator.

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