Sustainability

Ground Work 2022: Missouri Weather Impacts Soybean Management Decisions

After getting off to a strong start, a very hot, dry July damaged crop yields in our area of the U.S. Midwest.

On July 2, we received nearly 2 cm, or .8 inches, of rain. Then it turned very hot and dry. We didn’t receive any moisture until the last week of the month, when 5 to 6 cm, or 2 to 2.5 inches, fell over three days. After a week of relief, intense heat is forecasted to return during the first week of August.

Before the heat started, our replanted soybeans filled bare spots in well. The soybeans are currently blooming and starting to put on pods. While the rain will help the crop at this stage, I think that stretch of hot, dry weather did reduce yield potential for the crop. That has influenced how we are managing our soybeans.

We often treat our soybeans with a fungicide to support plant health during early reproductive stages. This season, we started applying the fungicide, adding an insecticide only when insect pressure was a problem. We want to maintain populations of beneficial insects wherever possible. When we had treated the 15 to 20% of the soybeans that reached reproductive stages first, we realized that the weather was compromising yield potential. We decided to limit how much we invested in additional fungicide for the rest of the crop.

Following the late July rain, we decided to apply fungicide on a few more fields with our best soils and highest yield potential. However, we are only treating our average fields if we see a flare up of insects or diseases. We continue to scout for problem pests.

Our corn suffered much more from the weather, and I don’t think the yield will be spectacular this week. It pollinated really well before the heat set in, and we treated it with fungicide to promote plant health. However, intense heat and lack of moisture reduced ear size. Ears were tipped back, meaning that kernels toward the tip of the ear were aborted because the plants couldn’t support filling them.

The weather isn’t the only factor that changes our management plans. We also make decisions in response to crop markets. We had also planned to deliver most of our 2021 crops to customers during June. We fulfilled our existing soybean and corn contracts, but we still had some crop left to sell. Then crop prices dropped, so we waited to finish selling the crop.

With August underway, we will go ahead and sell the rest of the 2021 crop regardless of prices. We need to clean out our storage bins by mid-August to allow time to make repairs and get them ready to hold the 2022 crop. We expect to start harvesting corn in early September.

The soybeans will continue filling and maturing through August and September. Because they have quite a bit of time to grow, we are still confident we will get a good soybean crop in 2022.

 

Neal Bredehoeft

U.S. Soybean Farmer

Neal Bredehoeft farms soybeans and corn with his brothers and a nephew near Alma, Missouri.