COLUMBUS, Ohio — Harvest has been long for Ohio soybean growers, but the end result is nothing to scoff at.
According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, the state is seeing a record state average yield of 47 bushels per acre — two bushels more than the previous record set in 1997.
"Yields have been fantastic," said Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. "Some growers are seeing 70 bushels per acre. On our research sites in southern Ohio, we were averaging yields as much as 80 bushels per acre."
Beuerlein said that lack of stress on the crop might have been the biggest factor behind the good numbers.
"Normally, there are three main sources of crop stress from July through September. They are poor weather, insect feeding and disease. Weather during flowering and grain-fill was fantastic, and we had adequate water, warm temperatures and minor insect problems," said Beuerlein. "We had some root damage due to disease, but the plants were able to bounce back because of little stress.
Early in the growing season, however, analysts weren't so optimistic.
"I think these record yields caught everyone off guard," said Beuerlein. "The beans in June were so small. I wouldn't have given you a nickel for the whole state. But then July, August and September were just perfect."
Beuerlein added that within the results of the 2004 growing season lies the secret to crop production.
"We can't control the weather but we can control disease and insects through the proper use of cultural practices and pesticides. The more we can reduce crop stress, the better our yields will be," said Beuerlein. "We also know that most varieties have the genetic capacity to produce yields of over 100 bushels per acre. So the secret to high yields is stress elimination, pest reduction and management."
Growers have been harvesting their beans since September. About five percent of the crop still remains in the field.