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Soybean harvest dragging on

By Matt Reese

There were eye-popping soybean yields around the state in 2018 and, unfortunately, some of those soybeans are still out there. The Ohio soybean yield is forecast at 59 bushels per acre, which would be the highest on record if realized, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Ohio Field Office. But, harvest continues to drag on for Ohio’s soybeans with 90% of the state’s crop harvested as of Nov. 25. The five-year average for the same date is 99%.

“We’re just down to about 300 acres of double-crop beans,” said Scott Metzger, a Pickaway County farmer on Nov. 20. “In our area there are some beans and not much corn out there. Everybody was hammering on corn because they were concerned about it going down.”

The early focus on corn followed by very uncooperative harvest weather has unfortunately left some soybean fields un-harvested into December. Quality issues also presented a challenge for soybeans, offsetting some of the strong yields.

“We did have some quality issues. We had some in the 20% to 25% damage range in the soybeans,” Metzger said. “We had a late flush of frogeye come in and then stink bugs came in and hammered on one variety we had. We’ve had a record rainfall for the year so far, so hopefully we can run on some frozen ground.”

All things considered, 2018 was just an unusual year for Ohio soybean production.

“I say every year is weird,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension soybean specialist. ‘This year seemed like a very backwards year for us.”

The unusual growing season showed up in the Ohio Soybean Performance Trials.

“I was comparing 2017 data to 2018 data for our Performance Trials and that is in six counties across the state. A big surprise for me this year was northwest Ohio. Last year in Henry County I didn’t publish the data because it was very wet and then dry. Yields were all over the board and very inconsistent in the field. This year in Henry County we had some of the highest yields I have ever seen,” she said. “The average yield in Henry County for the early trial was over 64 bushels and 66 for the late trial. That is about the highest I have ever seen it.”

Like most of the state, planting was nearly perfect in most locations.

“We were able to plant everything in May, which is ideal, except for in Sandusky County. North central Ohio was really wet and that spot was hard to plant and we didn’t get it planted until June. Otherwise we had really solid planting dates, which I think helped a lot,” Lindsey said. “The other thing we saw that was interesting was in our central and southern locations, we tended to see better yields in our early trial versus our late trial. I heard at Farm Science Review as well that their early maturing soybeans did better than they usually do. I am wondering if that warm weather we had in September and October hurt those later soybeans in our central and southern locations.”

The warm, wet weather through the season set the stage for seed quality issues around the state at harvest.

“Seed quality was poor all over the state. I have a seed sample from Clinton County that is horrible. I had calls from Cincinnati all the way to Sandusky County and west into Clark County and Preble County. There were many factors going on, even many in the same field. The sample on my desk probably has stink bug damage. There are shriveled soybeans. There are soybeans that are still green — we thought that was premature death where the pods look dead and the seeds had prematurely died because of the hot temperatures,” Lindsey said. “We had soybean pods splitting open and sprouting out of the pods and we had frogeye leaf spot and that could all happen in the same field. Some of the pods were splitting when they were still green. That is more of a tropical problem in areas where it is really hot and humid this year. It was a very sudden spring and fall. It was another unique year and I’m sure next year will be something different — 2018 was a weird year.”

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