4 Common Challenges for Soybean Growers in Canada
Apr 4, 2018
Soybeans are an excellent addition to many Canadian farms. Review these 4 common challenges for soybean growers before introducing them into your fields.
For decades, Canadian soybeans came almost exclusively from Southern Ontario. Over the past 15 years, Maritime and Western Canadian growers have caught on to the advantages of growing soybeans: the plants don’t require a great deal of inputs, making it a cost-effective and profitable crop to grow. They’re also an excellent forage crop for livestock farmers. Overall, this is a major benefit for farmers and the Canadian agriculture industry, but soybeans can pose their fair share of challenges. Below, we’ll examine some common challenges and tips for first-time soybean growers.
1. Farms with Low Crop Heat Units (CHUs)
Soybeans originated from tropical climates, and fare well in higher heat unit environments. In the southern prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, these factors pose the greatest challenge. A best practice is to plant later in the season toward the end of May or early June, as soybeans need warmer soil for a strong start. Though many earlier maturing Roundup Ready soybean varieties are recommended for 2350 to 2450 CHUs, photosensitivity varies from one variety to the next. Higher photosensitivity can help the plant perform well in the absence of ideal temperatures. Work closely with your seed dealer and agronomist to determine a variety that will adapt well to your farm’s climate and soil conditions.
2. Short Growing Seasons
Soybeans are very susceptible to frost damage, which in most regions of Canada can threaten yield in the late season. For this reason, it’s safer to grow an early-maturing variety in shorter growing seasons. Eastern Canada enjoys a warmer climate for longer periods, so higher-yielding Xtend varieties do best in these regions. In Western Canada, where winters are long and growing seasons can end abruptly, growing high-yield varieties runs the risk of an immature crop getting hit by unexpected frost.
3. Poor Soil Health
Not all farms are blessed with highly fertile soils. Soybeans don’t need a lot of inputs, but when soil quality isn’t ideal, it’s best to optimize the potential of the fields you’re working with. Inoculants are popular products for soybean farmers, increasing the potential of the available nutrients in the soil to be absorbed by the plant. It’s also possible to combine inoculants to augment their effects. Ask your agronomist about inoculant options.
4. Resistant Weeds
Glyphosate resistance is a growing concern across Canada. Dicamba, a new herbicide which is growing in popularity, is helping to provide chemical rotation options to reduce the occurrence of resistant weeds. For fields with troublesome weeds, the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System is designed to help farmers keep fields clean and soybean plants healthy.
While these challenges can take some patience and a little trial-and-error to overcome, it’s often possible for Canadian farmers to find soybean varieties and practices that work for them. Before long, these efficient pulses can benefit your crop rotation – and your bottom line.