Farm Income Decline and Possible Back-to-Back Soybeans

September 7, 2009 at 8:15 am

Stu Ellis, author of the farm gate blog provides a less than rosy account of farm income in 2009: Rising prices in 2007 and high prices in 2008 are being met with lower prices in 2009 that will eaten up by relatively high production costs. According to the USDA the net effect is farm income will be at $54 billion for the US, compared to more than $87 billion in 2008. And according to Ellis, compared to the average of last 10 years the estimate for 2009 farm income is $9 billion below that average. Input expenses have been up and down, but there has been one area that shows steady increase in cost: seed. Specifically, seed corn is up 31.5% over last year while seed beans are up 24.5%. In the face of these numbers, there may be some interest in placing more acres in soybeans or back-to-back soybeans.In Ohio, approximately 1/3 or more of soybeans are fields of soybeans following soybeans.

Keep in mind that research from most Midwest states indicate that a soybean crop following a crop other than soybeans will usually yield about 10% more grain, on average, than when soybeans follow soybeans. However, if back-to-back soybeans is your decision then be aware that no rotation tends to lead to frogeye leafspot, Sclerotinia white mold and Soybean cyst nematode issues. We’ve also seen SDS, Brown stem rot and Diaporthe stem canker more often in monoculture soybean fields compared to those with more crops in the rotation. So, if you are planning to do more soybeans back to soybans, right now is actually a great time to scout fields and identify problems. This late season scouting of soybean fields going back to soybeans in 2010 will give you an idea as to whether you need to move this field out of soybeans or make sure you’ve got a “defensive” soybean going into that field the following year.

Pick the area of the field that lies in the lowest portion, where moisture and fog settle in and look in that area. Walk in several feet and look at the upper portion of the canopy for frogeye leaf spot lesions. Look for those dead plants scattered around and if disease is present, make sure to get a positive identification. Several diseases are present in Northwest Ohio fields currnetly, and include: Sclerotinia, charcoal rot, SDS, brown stem rot, and Phytophthora. If you are unsure of the disease, please do not hesitate to bring a sample to your county Extension Educator or visit the OSU Plant Pathology Website at If you find only one plant with disease symptoms, that plant may be a signal that next year there could be more problems as there will be more inoculum of that particular disease. As such, it is important to pay attention to variety selection. “Offensive” soybeans are great as long as the weather is cooperative and pathogens are absent. But Ohio has many pathogens, just waiting for that susceptible soybean variety and that perfect environment to substantially lower your soybean yields. So get out there while the weather is cool, and look around— see how that variety did under this years’ conditions and what can be improved for next year.

Entry filed under: farm management, soybeans.

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