Renewable Farming

More foliar spray ideas to perk lazy soybeans into more blooms

Here are a couple of elixirs for encouraging soybeans into more vibrant blooming — especially beans which have lazed through weeks of saturated soils, drifting into the reproductive stage. 

July 20, 2018 — The first “remedy” is a little weird. But cheap. Its history dates back about 40 years to Dr. Carey Reams, originator of the “Reams Biological Theory of Ionization.” Dr. Reams focused on ways to stimulate ionic energy transfer in crops. One of his keenest students was Dr. Dan Skow, founder of International Ag Labs in Fairmont, Minnesota. Drs. Reams and Skow now belong to the ages, but their books and farm seminar recordings live on. 

The core idea of stimulating reproductive blooming in plants is triggering a cationic state, which is a higher energy level. Here’s an excerpt from the book, “Mainline Farming for Century 21” by Dan Skow and Charles Walters. Dan is describing how he helped a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania tomato grower whose tomatoes persisted in making vines but no fruit:

“I told him to buy Bo-Peep ammonia at the local grocery store, enough to apply one quart per acre. The cell needed this form of nitrogen, and it needed water as well. I told the grower to purchase apple cider vinegar for carbon. A half-gallon of vinegar with a quart of Bo-Peep ammonia in 20 gallons of water made a perfect spray for the crop.

“Forty-eight hours later, that tomato patch sported the most beautiful layer of blossoms ever. At the end of a week, the tomato patch was loaded with marble-sized tomatoes. A week later, some of the fruit started to drop off. After a second spraying, the crop took off again. We did that four times through the season. I traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see the results. The farmer couldn’t get the entire crop harvested.”

One of Doc Skow’s most brilliant students, Dr. Arden Andersen — who is now a physician in Kansas — refined that vinegar and ammonia remedy which is intended for reluctant reproduction. Arden added Coca-Cola syrup concentrate. This provides a shot of phosphoric acid and sugar, plus whatever proprietary ingredients are in Coke’s long-secret formula. This is the soda-fountain syrup still used in restaurants worldwide. Online, 5 gallons of Coke syrup bag-in-box Classic concentrate ranges from $89 at Sam’s Club to $160 elsewhere. Amazon sells 2.5-gal. bag-in-box for $79.49; free shipping if you’re a Prime member. We have a couple 5-gallon bag-in-box cases of Coke syrup here if you want to play with this; we will remainder those out for $85 per case. 

One of our most innovative Renewable Farming clients, Dave Olson here in Iowa, has used this recipe for years.  He says, “A couple of days after spraying this, beans green up and set more blooms. They keep short internodes.”

Many growers put away their sprayer after the spring postmerge herbicide trip. Dave foliar-feeds crops through much of summer and usually includes WakeUP Summer to amplify the benefit of whatever he’s applying. Here’s his adaptation of Arden Andersen’s recipe, the rates of which can be varied. We’ll express it as a garden-sprayer sized batch for simplicity:

1 pint of Coke Classic syrup concentrate

5 pints of well water (no chlorine, please)

6 teaspoons of household ammonia (the Bo Peep brand is seldom available anymore, but there are other brands of ordinary household ammonia at your grocery store or a big-box store).

6 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (Amber stuff with the ‘mother,’ not clear vinegar or acetic acid).

You can translate these ratios into quantities needed to fill your 1,000-gallon high-clearance Miller or Hagie.  (Some wholesale suppliers may hesitate to sell Coke syrup for agronomic use, but your purpose is your business.)

The second stimulant for hesitant soybeans is called Balance + and is marketed by Biodyne USA. Bob Wagner, Midwest crop consultant for Biodyne USA, has worked with this product for about four seasons. His complete Biodyne program includes Biodyne’s fall residue digestion spray, Environoc 501. Then at planting, in-furrow Environoc 401, another biological. After that, a broadcast spray of “Balance +.” The Balance + is quite new and hasn’t appeared on the Biodyne USA website yet. 

Bob tells us that Balance + contains essential micronutrients which soybeans often lack by midseason: Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese and Zinc. (We’d expect that those elements are most often short in programs with a long history of the powerful chelating agent, glyphosate.).

Balance + also contains “inert” natural ingredients including three hormones and fulvic acid. The fulvic aids cellular absorption of the traces and hormones.  Bob says that in previous years, at least one farmer client has seen 71-bu. soybeans with excellent management, topped up with an early reproductive stage application of Balance +.

We stashed a small stock of Balance + here at our Renewable Farming plant this week, for the first adventuresome grower who wants to give it a test. Cost is $31 per gallon, which adds up to $155 for a 5-gallon case. Rate is 1 to 2 pints per acre. You can skimp and get by for $3.88 per acre for a pint per acre, or $7.75 for a quart per acre.  Even with cheap beans so, it’s worth a shot. We of course encourage 5 ounces of WakeUP Summer tank-mixed with the Balance +.

Please e-mail or phone us with more ideas you’ve found effective!

Update July 21:  Indiana farmer Hal Brown e-mailed us with a simple bean yield treatment for stressful conditions — 

“I like to foliar with Sea-Crop and high-fructose corn syrup, which are easily available in large quantities. I can spray this blend in water three times for the cost of some of the commercial rescue treatments. Sea-Crop is full of natural fulvic acids and minerals. Beans I foliared with this had leaf brix levels of 8, versus 4 for unsprayed beans. No proof of yield in that, but a good indicator after only one foliar. One caution: Can’t tank-mix Sea-Crop with phosphate fertilizers.”