At this stage the nodules are rapidly forming on the roots. It is a great idea to go check to ensure that 10–15 nodules are visible on the roots. Sometimes I squeeze them and they should be pink inside indicating that they are indeed producing the nitrogen required for the soybean plant.

Remember, it takes about three to four pounds of nitrogen per bushel of harvest soybeans, so these nodules have to fix about 300 pounds of N for a 60 bushel per acre harvest.

If there are issues it could be pH related, nutrient related, inoculation, virgin soil issues or other maladies.

I keep a quick pH kit in my truck and many times check pH near the seed. Low pH many times hampers the nodule formation on the roots. If you do find limited to non-existent nodules there is still time. However it is becoming limited. If the plant becomes N deficient an application of N might prove useful.

Another key aspect at this time is that at each joint of the stem there will be axillary buds (simply a bud at a stem joint). This is a great advantage, unlike corn that has one growing point, the soybean plant, once the axillary buds form, will have a tremendous amount of growing points at each and every one of the joints on the plant adding to its ability to survive stress, hail and other maladies in season.

Short of you going out and clipping off the plants, or a disease or insect takes out the stem below the cotyledons, very little can really destroy the plants regenerative ability. Even ground hogs leave just enough that the beans regenerate from the axil buds to have a continual supply of fresh growth.

As the vegetative stages continue, things begin to change once the first flowers emerge. Any flower that you can identify on the plant indicates the R stages or reproductive stages.

A general rule of thumb is that once the first flower is observed by doubling the height of the plant at that stage is roughly about the height the plant will be at harvest.