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FIRST soybean plots withstand dry conditions
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FIRST soybean plots withstand dry conditions

Soybean harvest

Weather is always a major variable in a growing season, and for those testing crops, it can cause headaches.

But despite strong winds and drought in many portions of the Midwest, this year’s Farmers’ Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) field tests found the right spots and had a successful testing season.

“We had a great year for data,” said Bill Schelp, FIRST manager for Missouri test plots. “Compared to last year, especially, the data was all good to excellent on the trials, which is always fun to see. It was a nice change of pace from last year.”

Schelp said rains in July helped the Missouri soybean crop, but a dry August took the top end potential off some parts of the state.

“I had operators that had a half-inch or less in the month of August,” Schelp said.

While some test sites in Missouri weren’t hit nearly as hard by dry conditions, the yields were still extremely variable, with some reaching 35 bushels per acre and others achieving 65 bushels per acre. Schelp said overall it was an above-average year for soybeans.

Corey Rozenboom, the FIRST manager in northern Iowa, said his northwest and north central sites were up 1-4% this year for soybean averages despite the drier weather.

“Even with the dry year, the soybeans set pods and flowers well enough this year to carry the crop,” Rozenboom said. “We did notice at harvest there were a lot of differences in seed size due to the drought, but there were enough pods to compensate.”

With so many weather events this season, Rozenboom said this year shows how critical seed tests can be, putting an emphasis on performance summaries.

A few of Randy Meinsma’s central and southern Iowa test sites were lost in the August derecho that flattened many fields across the state. He said it has been tough to see the destroyed crops this season.

However, in his test sites that persevered, the soybean crop looked good this season in some tougher conditions.

“We got some showers when we needed them in August when soybeans needed to fill, and they did better than they expected,” Meinsma said.

Large windows and nice soil conditions were prevalent for many farmers in central Illinois, FIRST manager Nathan Roux said, noting heavy rainfall in the early part of the growing season affected soybean emergence.

“We had high hopes for some of the locations and it just didn’t look real good in some of those areas when we did stand counts,” Roux said. “But then later on in the summer, they looked good because soybeans compensate so well.”

He said the dry weather in August to close out the season definitely took its toll on the crop at harvest.

“You could tell the seed was very small, and the internodes were long between pod sets,” Roux said. “In some areas there were just one or two pod sets.”

A lack of rain affected Jason Beyers’ sites in northern and southern Illinois, and he estimated about a 10 bushel loss on soybeans this year.

“The top 6 inches of the plants just really gave up and didn’t have much for the pod set,” Beyers said.

The shorter plant this year made harvesting easier, however, Beyers said.

He noted that in his southern Illinois sites, the later-planted soybeans tended to lag behind early-season soybeans in yield, noting up to a 20-25 bushel per acre difference between the two.

Beyers echoed Roux’s observation about seed size, calling them small to average.

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