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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


A Gloomy Soybean Crop Looming for Some Growers

August 12, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Soybean growers are batting a thousand this year and some already have three strikes against them. Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that late plantings, a wet summer and cooler than normal daytime temperatures are adding up to a disease-ridden, nonproductive soybean crop. “We got a late start. We don’t have the heat we need. We are not getting as much sunlight as normal and we’ve got all of these disease problems,” said Beuerlein, a professor with the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. “We kind of got the worst of everything and it all means that our crop is not going to be very productive.” According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, over 40 percent of the crop is in good condition with 82 percent blooming and 33 percent setting pods. “Most plants are blooming and the early planted fields are starting to fill pods but are still later than normal,” said Beuerlein. “Some late-planted soybeans have not formed any pods yet.” Beuerlein said that if weather conditions don’t improve — meaning clear, sunny days and upper 80-degree temperatures — harvest might be below the state average by five to 10 bushels per acre. Normal state average usually runs between 40 to 45 bushels per acre. “We still have six to eight weeks to go. Things could turn around,” said Beuerlein. But for now growers have to watch their crop struggle under cloudy skies and persistent rains ad die from the stresses of root rot diseases. “Soils have been wet and we’ve got root rot diseases everywhere. Plants are dying and they will continue to die throughout the summer,” said Beuerlein. “We’ve also had a lot of cloudy weather, which will affect grain development. All the grain the plant makes comes from sunlight and if sunlight doesn’t hit the crop, it’s not going to make any grain.” Ohio has also received four to nine inches more rain than normal since April, throwing ideal growing conditions off kilter. Too much rainfall is a double-edged sword, said Beuerlein. “We get more disease and more cloudy weather than normal and both reduce yield. Look at everybody’s blue grass yards. Blue grass lawns usually die in the summer but they are all green and lush,” he said. “Highway berms and medians are lush and green. If you like to mow grass, you are having a good summer. If you make a living growing soybeans and corn, well, there is next year.”

Candace Pollock
Jim Beuerlein