With reduced seed availability to plant our 2016 soybean crop, farmers will be considering alternative strategies. One of those that might be considered is the Early Soybean Production System. This system is typically a challenge due to conflicting harvest timing with both peanuts and cotton harvest as well as rainfall in the month of September. Many local farmers will be reducing their peanut acreage, and will perhaps be better suited to timely harvest. Here is an excerpt from the Georgia Soybean Production Guide. The Guide can be found HERE: Georgia Soybean Production Guide.
EARLY SOYBEAN PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN GEORGIA
Researchers have examined an Early Soybean Production System (ESPS) that allows for earlier than usual soybean planting and harvesting. ESPS involves planting a maturity group IV or indeterminate MG V soybean variety and planting it between April 20 and May 31. The ESPS system has become popular in the Delta and Mid-south but is still fairly uncommon in Georgia.
The ESPS system appears to have the most merit for productive soils in the Middle/Upper Coastal Plain and the Limestone Valley regions of Georgia. MG IV or early MG V indeterminate varieties are used in the ESPS system because they grow better with early planting (April 20 – May 10) than determinate varieties. The critical moisture period for ESPS is July and early August. Therefore, the ESPS system can be used to escape September/October drought and/or to further spread drought risks when grown in addition to regular soybean varieties. Performance of ESPS varieties can be improved by planting in closerow widths (7 to 30 inches) and at high seeding rates (10 to 20% above normal). ESPS varieties will mature by mid-September. Harvest must be made by 10 to 14 days after maturity to avoid shatter and seed quality problems.
There are three major risks which must be managed when growing ESPS soybeans:
- These varieties attract stink bugs during early pod-fill (July). Therefore, stink bug scouting and control measures are essential.
- ESPS seed quality declines rapidly in the field after maturity. Harvest within two weeks of maturity to prevent possible severe seed quality problems.
- Maturity of ESPS soybeans can coincide with late August and early September rains and hurricanes, such as those encountered in 2004. Thus a large portion of one’s soybean crop should not be planted in this manner. It is always best to spread risk over planting dates and maturity classes.
ESPS is not well adapted to Georgia for the above three reasons. Harvesting good quality seed is the biggest concern for ESPS. As such, ESPS soybean seed quality is expected to be fair in North Georgia but only fair to poor in southern Georgia counties.