COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Despite varied rainfall and high insect populations, Ohio's soybean crop may be headed for a record-breaking year in yields.
According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, state average yield is forecasted at 44 bushels per acre. If that number is realized, this year's growing season will join 1997 and 1998 with the second-best record. Last year's average yield was tops at 47 bushels per acre.
"It was a good year for most growers, and a disaster for some," said Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. "About 10 percent of the state stayed dry all summer long. Soybean yields from those fields varied anywhere from 15 to 30 bushels per acre. Another 15 percent of the state didn't get enough rain, but it wasn't horribly dry. Those yields typically range from 30 to 40 bushels per acre. The other 75 percent of the state ended up getting much-needed rains during the grain-filling period. Some farmers in those areas are reporting as high as 70 bushel-per-acre yields."
Soybean performance varied depending on what Mother Nature threw at the crop during the growing season. Spring showers extended the planting season for some growers into June, while late season rainfall delayed harvest. A small percentage of fields still wait to be harvested.
In between those rains was a summer of dry conditions that was a detriment to the crop in some parts of the state.
"It just didn't rain for some folks and what little rain they got, the soil was so dry it immediately soaked up the moisture," said Beuerlein, who also holds a partial research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "The crop was much better off in areas where soils received some rains. The plant roots were able to extend deeper to tap into moisture during dry periods."
Inconsistent rainfall wasn't the only problem plaguing the soybean crop. Soybean aphids, bean leaf beetles, Japanese beetles and grasshoppers were an unwelcome sight.
"There were a lot of insect problems during the year," said Beuerlein. "Due to high insect populations, most of the northern two-thirds of the state was sprayed for some combination of insects that were present in the fields."
Though growers can manage insects, the weather is out of their hands.
"You can't fault Ohio farmers in the way they manage their fields," said Beuerlein. "Keeping an eye on diseases and insects, picking good varieties and planting early are all good management practices to follow. But the weather is something that you can't control."