Farmers: Hot, dry August hurts soybeans

Farm Forum

Soybean crops and prices have deteriorated across South Dakota and the nation as high temperatures persisted through August accompanied by little to no rain.

The hot weather in August pushed the soybeans along, but natural drying down isn’t happening, said Connie Strunk, a plant pathologist at a South Dakota State University Extension office in Sioux Falls. She said some soybeans are struggling with the heat and lack of moisture.

“The yields that looked pretty good earlier are not going to do nearly as well. There will be a lower seed quality,” she said.

Farmers across the area say soybeans could have used some rain to mitigate the hot spell. They expect yields to vary from 19 to as high as 65 bushels an acre.

Chet Edinger, of Edinger Bros. Partnership in Mitchell, said he wished for a good rain in late August that never came.

“We’re running out of moisture and there’s a concern we won’t have the yields we’re hoping for,” he said. “If we do get rain, then it’s too late.”

He said the morning dews have helped a little to further his soybean crops, but rain is needed.

“With the hot days and the stress, the pods start to abort,” he said.

Typically, Edinger and his brother, Charlie, average 30 to 40 bushels an acre for soybeans. But they’re expecting to average lower than 30 this year.

The Edinger brothers plan to start harvesting their beans by the last few days of September and into October, although that will set back their winter wheat planting.

Near Chamberlain, Ronnie Reiner said his soybean fields are looking good, despite not having rain since the middle of August.

“I’m still working on an above-average crop. I don’t have it in the bin yet, but it looks pretty promising,” he said.

He called the recent hot weather a “flash drought.” Prior to experiencing temperatures into the high 90s in late August, Reiner said his crops didn’t show many signs of stress. He said a little cooler weather and some more rain would have helped.

Reiner plans to begin harvesting his 600 acres of soybeans around the end of this month. Last week, Reiner said a check of his fields proved his plants were producing many pods and he expects between 35 and 65 bushels an acre.

“I’ve gotten 75 bushels before and some beans have the potential for higher than that,” he said.

Prices for soybeans in South Dakota and the United States were around $15.30 a bushel earlier this year. A month later, prices fell to between $13.40 and $13.80 a bushel.

Lisa Elliott, a commodity marketing specialist with SDSU Extension in Brookings, said the uncertainty of soybean yields caused the drop in prices, along with the hot weather across the Midwest and some late planting of crops.

Elliott said U.S. soybean production is projected at 3.2 billion bushels — around 200 million more than in 2012.

“The demand is still strong, but the expectation is we’ll have a larger crop,” Elliott said. “The price is lower because the market expects there will be a larger crop compared to last year.”

Paul Mayclin, of Mayclin Farms Partnership near Plankinton, said his and his brother John’s crop doesn’t look “as good as it once was.”

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls doesn’t have a weather observer in the Plankinton area, but acknowledges there were dry pockets around Plankinton. The AgKota grain elevator in Plankinton estimated the town of Plankinton received about an inch of rain in August.

For August, NWS recorded 1.74 inches of rain at Chamberlain, 1.35 inches of rain at White Lake and 2.54 inches of rain at Mitchell.

The Mayclins plant about 5,000 acres of soybeans and expect to get in the high 20s or low 30s for bushels per acre. Last year, they averaged 19 bushels an acre.

“At one time, the yield potential was to be the best we ever had,” Mayclin said of this year’s crop. “But with no rain in August, it went down pretty fast.”

He said many farmers along the Aurora County and Davison County line suffered a lack of rain in August.

The Plankinton area, he said, missed some rain Mitchell got in early August. At that time, Mayclin’s soybeans had the potential to produce 50 bushels an acre. The Mayclins usually see an average of about 38 bushels an acre, he said.

He plans to begin harvest a little later than normal — some fields in late September, which is normal, but others in early October.