Dry weather key to soybean recovery

October 21, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Indiana's soybean harvest was proceeding ahead of schedule with few complications, wrapping up an eventful growing season that began with record rains and flooding but which appears to be ending with near-normal yields and drier-than-normal conditions, a Purdue Extension soybean specialist says.

"Beans have definitely been a shining star," said Shaun Casteel. "It just shows how the plants can compensate for stresses."

The primary reason for the recovery has been better weather.

"We've had a beautiful harvest season," Casteel said. "Over the past few weeks we've had nice, warm temperatures and little rain. The soil has dried out and the crop has matured fast."

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress Report, issued Monday (Oct. 19), 80 percent of Indiana's soybeans had been harvested as of Oct. 18, compared with a five-year average of 60 percent for the same date. Last year at this time, only 30 percent of the crop had been harvested.

Experts forecast a yield of 51 bushels per acre this year, in line with the three-year average of 50.5.

"After struggling early, the crop has recovered very well," Casteel said. "We've got good pod retention and the seed fill is pretty good."

About 15 inches of rain fell in June and July in Indiana, making it the second-wettest two-month period on record for the state, according to the Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue. Conditions have since moderated, with August and September drier than normal through most of the state.

Unlike last year, when cool, wet weather late in the season delayed the harvest across many parts of the state, drying the crop has not been a problem so far this year. The USDA reported that the state average moisture content for soybeans is 12 percent so far. Beans are typically sold with a moisture content of 13 percent.

Chris Hurt, Extension agricultural economist, said farmers should not wait for the moisture content to get too low.

"It is common this year for individuals to report moisture levels of 10 percent or lower in some fields," Hurt said.

When the moisture content falls below 13 percent, the market weight decreases, which means lower prices for the crop. In addition, dry beans are more brittle and more susceptible to shattering, which could mean greater losses during harvest.

Writer: Darrin Pack, 765-494-8415, dpack@purdue.edu

Sources: Shaun Casteel, 765-494-0895, scasteel@purdue.edu

Chris Hurt, 765-494-4273, hurtc@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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