I was walking along at the Indiana State Fair near the 4-H Building when I finally saw what I expected to see- soybeans growing in a flower bed. When it was the year of corn, corn was planted and growing everywhere. So naturally, soybeans should be growing this year.
What struck me next was how good the soybeans looked! No doubt they were planted relatively early and watered, but maybe Greg Preston and the boys at the Indiana Ag Statistics Service should have checked out the state fairgrounds before estimating a paltry 43 bushel per acre yield for Indiana soybeans in 2011 in the August report.
All kidding aside, they were some of the better soybeans I've seen, except maybe for some in northwest Indiana in Tippecanoe and Benton County. But even there, there are large water spots in fields thanks to huge rains after beans were planted in mid-May. There are no drowned-out spots in the soybeans I saw at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
In the center of the state and pretty much all up and down the eastern side of Indiana, most soybeans were planted either around Memorial Day, for those with limited acreage or who ran a cornplanter and soybean planter at the same time, to mid-June, to even early July. And in a few cases, the early July beans were first crop! Some excessively wet fields, while perhaps only a field here and there, were just too wet to plant until then,.
Now those beans are a foot tall, yet the calendar says its past the middle of August. That must be the beans Greg and his crew- I shouldn't say boys because one of his longest-standing field enumerators is a lady- found when they put together their report.
Even soybeans planted in early June don't tend to have a lot of height, even in 15 inch rows. Perhaps it's because there hasn't been enough moisture to grow them taller. Soybeans start thinking about reproduction based on the length of night anyway, so some started flowering when they were still relatively short.
Whether it was a fluke or a sign of something real, soybean roots I examined at the Morgan County Fair about the first of August were pretty anemic in terms of numbers of nodules. Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension soybean specialist, says it may not be such a fluke. It's possible that soybean planted into soils with lots of subsoil moisture or that received lots of rain after planting, didn't put on as many nodules. However, that's theory, not fact. And it remains to be seen if that will have any difference on yield if it is true.
Here's my suggestion to Preston. Fudge your strict rules and send your best enumerator to the Indiana State Fairgrounds before the September report. Maybe we can at least get yield projection up to 45 bushels per acre in Indiana!