As people reflect on the reasons for the irregular development and poor soybean production in Iowa this year, the next important questions relate to evaluation of crops in individual fields and planning when and how to harvest them to the greatest economic advantage. This evaluation involves reviewing normal crop growth and development, assessing the condition of the crops in individual fields relative to normal and to think through several harvest scenarios. Will this field have a harvestable soybean crop? Are there concerns about the crops? What use or management alternatives do you have?
Iowa State University Extension forage agronomist Steve Barnhart and ISU Extension soybean agronomist Andy Lenssen offer the following information to help farmers make this decision.
Soybeans were first introduced as a forage crop, and can still be used as such
Soybeans are primarily grown for oil and protein in the Midwest. However, soybeans were first introduced to the United States as a forage crop and still have that potential. In a season such as this, when poor establishment and drought stress may have limited the potential as a bean crop, when is it appropriate to abandon hope of profitable grain yield from a soybean crop and look to it as a possible forage source?
The critical decision should be based on whether it will produce an economic bean yield