Food Plots: Scouting Soybeans For Bigger Antlers (Episode 28 Transcript)

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WOODS: Hey, good morning.  It’s June 1st, right after the holiday weekend and we’re back to work already, of course and checking out our bean fields.  This field’s been planted about a month and Brad Doyle with Eagle Seed is going to be here teaching me some characteristics about soybeans and what to look for, make sure everything’s going okay.  I’m really interested in soybeans, because if you look at maps of distributions of states that grow the most soybeans and states that produce the most Boone and Crockett bucks, there’s an overlay.  Soybeans are super closely related to antler and fawn development.  All right, Brad, you’ve been out digging around.  What are you finding this morning?

BRAD: Uh, so far, we found some deer feeding, a little bit of insect feeding.  Crop looks great.  Good, good root system started.  You’ve got great soil conditions.  One thing I’m also noticing, you’ve got a heavy weed population so…

WOODS: Be spraying soon.

BRAD: … be spraying…

WOODS: So, this is a real common question.  How tall, these are roundup ready beans, so we can spray right over the top with a Glyphosate and take out the weeds.  How tall do you let the beans go?  Where does that competition factor come in?

BRAD: We are looking, maybe, primarily, two inch weeds out here.  We’ve got some time.  A week or two.  Four inches or less are going to be the easiest to control.  Soybeans can tolerate roundup labeled rate at any time.

WOODS: What we’ve done, been able to do in the past, we spray this once after we plant, let the beans get a little bit more established, then we’re done for the year.

BRAD: Yeah, the, the soybeans take over shading out the weeds and, and you're done for the season.

WOODS: Man, that’s great.  Well, we’re gonna come back through and just spray roundup over this.  The roundup will hit these weeds and kill them because they’re not resistant to roundup.  This plant is tolerant to roundup, so roundup droplets will hit it and it will have no adverse effect; go right here and hit these weeds and kill them.  That is a huge advantage to roundup ready crops.

WOODS: How early do you, we want to plant?  Too early and it’s too cold and I know it’s kind of tough on them and too late, we miss that window, so what’s kind of a gauge you use.  When do you want to plant soybeans?

BRAD: Well, I think you and I both look, look strongly to the university systems and what they, they recommend and somewhere around 62 to 65 degree soil temperature is very safe for the plants to germinate, get established and we, you know, we don’t want to plant them too early where we have a chance of frost and frost will kill them at that early stage and we want to avoid that.

WOODS: So, basically, you want to get past that last potential frost date and make sure your soil’s warming up that that seed can just blow up real quick and grow.

BRAD: Absolutely.  We also have to remember, though, if we plant them too; once we reach that point, we still have cool air temperatures.  The plant’s not going to grow as fast.  We put that into a heavy browse pressure area and, and it could really hurt the potential of the soybean plant, so.

WOODS: Deer eating it quicker than the plant’s growing.

BRAD: Absolutely.  Yeah, we don’t want to over compensate the foliage production there.

BRAD: Soybeans are a legume.  Basically, it’s a plant that can take nitrogen from the air and make it useful to the plant.  By doing so, you have to, to inoculate the plant, introduce the bacteria that does that.

BRAD: Here you have nodules that are produced on the plant.  And you’ve done a great job of, of inoculating these somewhere along the line.  It can actually build up in your soil, so that is, that’s crucial for fertilizer savings and also providing nitrogen to that plant 24 hours a day.

WOODS: And, so, I’ve got all these bumps, which are pumping nitrogen into the plant.  Deer eats the plant, getting super protein, which…

BRAD:  Absolutely.

WOODS: …we know is true for soybeans.  So, nodulation in some way, equates fawn and antler production.

BRAD: Absolutely.

WOODS: In a pine tree planting, we’d call this a jay root.  And it probably, the seed was probably right on top of a big flat rock and no nutrients right there.  I’m gonna bet it was setting on a rock and did not have much availability to nutrients, where this is just like the typical, spread out in every direction, secondary and tertiary roots coming off the main root, feeding really aggressively in great development.  So, we’re obviously not going to be as healthy a plant, not transferring as many nutrients to the deer.  This ones’ going to transfer a lot more nutrients to the deer because it has a better transfer system built in.  And it’s got a, a better supply system built in to transfer those nutrients to what the deer are consuming.

BRAD: Grant, one thing I’d like to, to talk to you about is the leaf size.

WOODS: Hmm.  Hmm.

BRAD: We’ve, we’ve developed soybeans that have a larger leaf size for, for forage production.

WOODS: I want, let’s talk just a second about “developed.”

BRAD: Okay.

WOODS: All right.  When we say developed, you're not in some chemistry lab pulling…

BRAD: No.

WOODS: …voodoo out of a vial.  You and your wife actually go out into soybean fields, find plants that have the traits you want…

BRAD: Hmm.  Hmm.

WOODS: …collect their pollen…

BRAD: Yes.

WOODS: …and cross those with other plants that have traits you want.

BRAD: Correct.

WOODS: It’s almost like taking the best lab dog, that’s just really known to be a great duck dog and selecting it with this other lab dog to get even a better duck dog, right?

BRAD: Absolutely.  Yes.

WOODS: So, you’ve been doing this for how many years and it, it’s a family business…

BRAD: It’s a family business over, over 40 years.  It has two plant breeders in the family and soybeans.  We have our, have a collection of germplasm, exotic germplasm and then, you know, farmers don’t care about, about the leaf size or the forage production.  They’re, they're more interested in the grain production.

WOODS: Sure.  You, you see those nice rows driving through Iowa or somewhere and it’s all about producing grain.

BRAD: Absolutely.  So, they maximize seed production with much smaller plant, easier to harvest; later, you know, maturing earlier in the year.

WOODS: Right.

BRAD: Here, here, we’re, we’re trying to develop something that’s, that’s, you know against the norm.  Later, a lot more plant material along the way and still produce the seeds that we, we want the deer to, to come back and eat later.

WOODS: So that’s why when this plant matures, I’ve seen them, those great big leaves…

BRAD: Absolutely.

WOODS: …and you think about the deer consuming.  Do you want to eat those little production bean leaves, which is just a small sandwich?  That’s like getting a, you know, a, the junior size hamburger.

BRAD: Right.  Right.

WOODS: Or do you want the double stack, Big Whopper hamburger and we’re trying to get the double stack here.

BRAD: Well, and, and, and that leaf helps, helps us, our carrying load per field is much larger.  Because if you think of deer coming and eating, you know a very small leaf, he has to eat three of those to equal, you know, one of these.  So, you, you, it’s less, less damage to the plants and more ability to, to recover from over browsing.

WOODS: So, am I, I mean, I think I’m correct here that no one else in the whole soybean industry has spent 40 years selecting for these characteristics.

BRAD: No.  No.  I would have to say that, that, that is correct.  Most, most are strictly grain.

WOODS: Yeah, so they’ve selected and done everything they could to get as many bushels per acre of grain production.

BRAD: Absolutely.

WOODS: You have that, too.

BRAD: Yes.  Yes, we do.

WOODS: But, because we get great grain production here, but you’ve also got the folage production.

BRAD: Correct.

WOODS: So, we’re feeding all summer and then the grain feeds in the winter.

BRAD: That’s right.

WOODS: Man, I love that.

BRAD: Grant I think it, it’s most important that people soil test their plots before they plant just to know what nutrients they have available.  That way, when you’re out here scouting for, for any kind of nutrient deficiency and you see something, you, you may have an idea if your soil is low in potassium or, or phosphorous and, and that would give you an idea.  And, also, you know, maybe later in the season, you’ve got a lot more plant material.  There’s another reason to be looking at potentially lighter colors  between the veins in the plants and, and that can tell you, you know, you may be deficient in potash or something, so, you know, always take notes of what you're seeing in the field.  Why, you know, where are they yellow?  Lower part of the plant; higher part of the plant and that, that can really help you to, to decide what, what problems you may be having and, and, hopefully supplement with a fertilizer to correct that.

BRAD: Something, something’s missing on this one.

WOODS: Yeah.  Big missing.

BRAD: Deer have come in and, and bitten that off above the cotyledon there, but as you notice…

WOODS: Cotyledon, being these two first leaves you see come out.  You might remember from high school biology, legumes are plants that make nitrogen and bust out of the ground and two leaves come out.

BRAD: Yup.  And that’s actually where the energy for the plant to come out of the ground is stored in the cotyledon, so.  They…

WOODS: Those are critical then.

BRAD: They are.  They're very critical.

WOODS: That’s like the battery that keeps it alive ‘til it can get recharged.

BRAD: Absolutely.  Here we have a plant has nipped off above that cotyledon, but we have two, two sets of tri-foliates which are a set of three leaves…

WOODS: The next set of leaves coming out here.

BRAD: Yes.  And so, this plant’s gonna do fine.  Deer will probably select larger plants in the field and, and leave this one alone as this one’s developing and, and should, should take off.

WOODS: One more bite right here.  It’d probably be done.

BRAD: Yeah, it probably would because it’s got to have sunlight to survive and, and so anything we can do, you know, population.  You can plant higher populations.  Here I noticed you planting a little bit lower population.

WOODS: Right.  We’re, when you kinda look around and see our space and the plants, this is right at 40 pounds per acre.  This is a pretty big field for us on our property here, so we were able to drop the rate a little bit…

BRAD: Right.

WOODS:  …let each plant really expand, have a big old canopy.

BRAD: Correct.

WOODS: And get great bean production.  A lot of people think if you plant a whole bunch of beans, you get more beans in the end, but sometimes they can be too much competition.

BRAD: Absolutely.  They sure can.

WOODS: Here’s those same two cotyledons.  They're a little different shape of leaf.  They actually have different texture.  You can always; here on this plant, this plant, and it’s got all this growth above it, so this plant will probably continue to grow, because there’s just nothing to attract a deer there right now, where a deer’s gonna walk by and take this big leaf.  And big leaf size, if you're right on that; big leaf size is a huge factor of Eagle Seed beans.

WOODS: Brad, I really appreciate you spending time here and you drove all the way up here to help me with this, because I think it’s just as important to scout our fields during growing season, just like it’s pre-season deer scouting because you’ve got time to add more fertilizer or spray an insecticide or do anything that can make…

BRAD: Correct.

WOODS: …the crop better because the better the crop, the better the deer.  It’s that simple.  Scouting early now gives us great advantages.  Just like scouting early for deer season lets you know where to put your stand…

BRAD: Correct.

WOODS: …or where the deer are moving.  And it’s actually better, because these, these plants aren’t going anywhere.  They're right here.

BRAD: That’s correct.

WOODS: I may locate a deer in the back of a soybean field, but he sheds velvet and gets some hormones going, changes behavior and he’s off on another part of the farm later in the season.

BRAD: Right.

WOODS: Soybeans are here.  Easy to scout.  Great information.  Thanks for your time today.

BRAD: Thank you.