By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off.
Every year is different. 2023 started off with above average temperatures and ideal soil conditions in early to mid-April. By the end of April and into May the weather turned much wetter and cooler. This created a split planting season in many areas. It was not until later in the second week of May that many farmers were able to return to the fields. Once planting could resume, it did so in a big way. Ohio experienced 25% to 30% of the corn and soybeans being planted consecutively for multiple weeks. Once the seed was in the ground the rain turned off again. Parts of the state experienced as many as three weeks with no measurable rainfall.
“In Ohio we typically worry about a wet spring, but this year it was a late dry spring,” said Stephanie Karhoff, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist, Agronomic Crops. “For soybeans we observed delayed emergence of the hypocotyls coming out of the ground because of the dry spell. Thankfully soybeans are very tolerant of the dry conditions when they are in the early vegetative stage compared to if it occurred during flowering and pod-fill later in the season. There was not as much damage as there could have been since it occurred early in the season. The plants had less growth above ground and prioritized the root development going down deeper into the soil profile to access the available moisture.”
The rains finally returned by the second weekend in June and with the rain came a rejuvenated crop.
“Crop development will likely be impacted,” Karhoff said. “Keep in mind that we might have some uneven growth staging in those soybean fields and that might impact applications further down the road. I also expect that we will have a flush of the small-seeded weeds emerging like waterhemp. Farmers need to think about what kind of layered residual herbicide program and post application that they have planned for those fields, especially if there was uneven emergence and even bare spots that the weeds could take advantage of.”
The recent dry weather has also impacted the wheat crop.
“The big impact in wheat is having the reduction in the grain fill period,” Karhoff said. “Having those dry conditions is going to expedite the senescence of the plant and possibly lead to an early harvest. This may lower the yields. The sliver lining is that we should have lower incidence of head scab, and wheat quality should be good this year.”
Another positive regarding an early wheat harvest is the potential to double-crop soybeans behind the wheat.
“Many wheat fields look like they might be able to be harvested four to even seven days early. That can give us a jump start on planting double crop soybeans,” Karhoff said. “When we are thinking about double-crop soybeans, the more time we have for development, and having adequate soil moisture are the two big pieces.”
The moisture in June could set the stage for farmers to take advantage of double-crop soybeans.
“We need to keep in mind when planting double-crop soybeans that management practices will differ compared to May planted beans,” Karhoff said. “We need to consider narrowing the row spacing and increasing the seeding rate. Some farmers may also want to adjust the relative maturity of the beans being planted to factor the timing you have available for the double-crop beans to grow and mature.”