Slow start could yield big for soybeans

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg

Many farms in Ohio took advantage of nearly ideal planting conditions in early April by getting solid start on soybeans. This, though, was followed by cold, wet, then very extended dry conditions, followed by some heavy rains. This sequence of weather left many soybean fields looking pretty rough heading into July. 

Extension educator Nick Eckel has been watching Wood County crop fields all season as the soybeans have progressed.

“We had great planting conditions and then it got dry for a good four weeks through June and then we started to catch a few rains there towards the tail end of June. We had a big rain event right around the Fourth of July where we ended up getting anywhere from 1.5 to upwards of 4.5 inches of rain that weekend,” Eckel said. “It kind of hurt the beans and we did see some diseases come on in some pockets. There are pockets all over the county that were set back or a little stressed from either rhizoctonia or Phytophthora in those low-lying tight soils. I would say on the on the soybean side it is still to be determined what our yields are going to be. There are going to be some really good fields and then there’s some fields that that look a little rough. You can still pick those areas out as you drive around.”

Madison Co. beans

Some areas of northwest Ohio are still struggling with limited rainfall, which could stunt soybean yields in the area, said Mike Theil, a Wyandot County farmer on the north leg of the 2023 Ohio Crop Tour.

Hardin County soybeans

“We started out in Crawford and Wyandot counties and saw some excellent beans and corn there with really good potential for top end yields,” Theil said “As we went up north into Hancock, Wood and Henry counties, again there was good potential, there but they are getting a little bit drier as we went north and they probably could use a little bit more rain there to get excellent yields, but there is still a lot of potential there if they get the right rains.”

On the southern leg of the 2023 Ohio Crop Tour, the good soybean fields seemed much more common than those that were struggling.

“What surprised us most is how well the beans are doing because, there for a while, the beans were small. They just wouldn’t grow and everybody was worried about them. But, in the last week they’ve shot up and they’re just loaded with pods. If we get this weather they’re talking about the next two or three weeks with some rain and cooler weather, these beans should really fill out,” said Don Jackson, a Preble County farmer on the south leg of the 2023 Ohio Crop Tour.  “The nodes are really close together and the plants are branched out well with a lot of pods. With the rain and cooler temperatures in August, I think we’re going to have some pretty tremendous bean yields. We did start seeing a little bit of frogeye and sudden death, but overall, there was just not really much disease or insect pressure out there that we found.” 

This field of Preble County beans suffered severe hail damage in Mid-July. They will hopefully recover enough to be harvestable.

Statewide, soybeans were generally behind heading into mid-August, though, and still in need of extended good growing conditions.

“We kind of expected as far as development, that these crops would be later than what we would like to see,” said Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension agronomist on the south leg of the 2023 Ohio Crop Tour. “We’ve got a ways to go as far as development. I think we said that a year ago too, but it’s even further behind this year, so no early frost.”

Extension educator Amanda Douridas scouted some central Ohio soybeans and reinforced what other scouts had been finding — surprisingly good soybeans. Fields were very clean and heavily podded. There were a couple of plants showing signs of sudden death syndrome and some minimal Japanese beetle feeding with 60+-bushel yield potential. 

After looking at crop fields in 14 counties in western and southern Ohio on the Crop Tour, Shelby County farmer Jon Everett said Ohio’s soybean crop looks likely to exceed his expectations. 

“I’m pretty surprised on the yields. We had a lot of issues this spring with dry weather and then it was really cold and then we got a lot of rain and then dry again, but things are shaping up really nicely,” Everett said. “I think everybody questioned soybeans a little bit this year but they really look pretty good.” 

These Greene Co. beans were tall with close nodes and many four-bean pods clear to the top.

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