Ohio Drought Doesn't Slow Soybeans; Record Yields Possible

October 23, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Drought conditions throughout much of Ohio this season have done little to slow the performance of the soybean crop. In fact, growers could be looking at near-record yields.

According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, 86 percent of the crop has been harvested, 35 percent higher than last year's harvest and ahead of the five-year average. The U.S. Department of Agriculture yield forecast for Ohio is 46 bushels per acre, one bushel shy of the state record.

"Yields are about 25 percent better than we expected. State average yield is going to be close to our record, if not a new record, and earlier in the year we thought it was going to only be an average crop because of the dry weather," said Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

Most of Ohio was plagued this growing season with either abnormally dry conditions or moderate drought conditions. Southern Ohio is still currently experiencing a range of drought conditions with counties along the Kentucky border in a severe drought situation. Though some soybean fields have been impacted by the drought, most actually benefited from the weather.

Beuerlein said the key was timing.

"With the dry weather in June and July came some blessings, and that was we had almost no root rot diseases, which always hurt our yields," said Beuerlein, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment. "The dry weather also did not affect the flowering or pod-fill processes. Fields received adequate moisture when the plants needed it."

The grain fill period went so well, in fact, that many growers across the state are dealing with green stems.

"Normally the soybean plant digests the stems and leaves to finish the pod-filling process, and the grain fill period went so well that many varieties didn't have to digest all those stems, and so they stayed green," said Beuerlein. "Green stems may make it tough to harvest, but if growers wait and let the plants dry down, then they are just as dry as those plants that mature normally."

Beuerlein said that growers throughout the west central and northwest regions of the state are facing the biggest impact from the dry weather, but even within those areas, variability is making it difficult to determine the extent of the problem.

"You could have a drought disaster on one field and then go five miles up the road and see a field that got adequate moisture," said Beuerlein. "Typical Ohio showers -- rain wets the front end of the field, but not the back end."

For more information on Ohio's soybean crop, refer to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agcrops.osu.edu.

The soybean is among Ohio's top three field crop commodities, generating over $1.3 billion to the agricultural industry, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Soybeans are grown in Ohio for a wide variety of uses -- from grain to food-grade to renewable energy production.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Jim Beuerlein