The most successful farmers are those who spend substantial time checking for disease, insects, stand uniformity and plant health. When things don’t look good, it’s time to call in your A-Team!

The Oxford online dictionary defines A-Team as “a group of elite soldiers or top advisors or workers in an organization.” Your A-Team needs to be a group of expert advisors, who can help you diagnose problems and make recommendations to solve those issues. This group might include your Latham® Dealer or RSM, an agronomist from your chemical retailer or local co-op, a county or state Extension expert, or a private consultant that you’ve hired for this specific purpose. Do not rely only on “coffee shop talk” or advice from neighbors or friends.

With your A-Team in mind, below are five things to watch for as we approach soybean pollination:

1. Overall population and stand. I believe that the period between planting and first bloom is the most critical time for soybean growers. Across most of Latham Country, Spring 2021 was dry enough to plant early yet too cool to stimulate consistent growth and vigor. Stands were uneven. Seedlings had a sick, yellow appearance, which can lead to the onset of diseases and pests.

2. Yellow soybeans. Soybeans can turn yellow (or chlorotic) for many reasons, including Iron Deficiency Chlorosis (IDC), Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN), high soluble salts, chemical burns, insects and diseases. Your A-Team can help determine what has caused this.

3. Soybean Aphid. I venture to say the Soybean Aphid is still the #1 insect pest across Latham Country. This insect overwinters in our region as eggs laid on the buckhorn species of trees and shrubs. Winged adults will move to soybeans in early to mid-June. Throughout the summer, most soybean aphids are females that reproduce asexually and rapidly. They can infest a whole field in a matter of days.

4. Soybean Gall Midge. This new insect species is causing damage in areas of southeast South Dakota, southwest Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, western Iowa and more recently in Northwest Missouri. Researchers expect to see adults in early to mid-June, however, information and management for this pest are still in the discovery stage.

5. Hail. Farmers don’t need to look for hail, but it too often finds them! Knowing what to look for and how to react is key when deciding what to do after a hailstorm. Soybean plants that are cut off below the cotyledon node have no chance of surviving. Plants that are severely bruised and easily fold over at the impact site have a very poor chance of surviving. However, plants that are only missing one cotyledon or missing both with the growing point still intact have a very good chance of survival. My best advice is to abstain from evaluating fields that received hail as soon as it is dry enough to do so. Instead, give the plants at least a week to see if new growth will occur. That way you can see what you have for a viable population.