Soybean Yields Showing Effects Of Late-Season Drought

Sharp change in season impacts soybean yields.

Published on: Oct 1, 2013

If your county average soybean yield was 50 bushels per acre on Aug. 1, it's likely you were thinking about 65 bushel soybeans. Now you may be happy with the long-term average. For the fourth year in a row in parts of Indiana, particularly southern Indiana, soybeans did not get enough rain during the critical reproductive stage to reach full yield potential.

Reported yields so far are still reasonable, and near average. Some 50 to 60 bushel per acre yields have been reported. However, those fields looked 10 to 20 bushels per acre better according to the farmers who harvested them earlier in the year.

The same weather pattern that chopped the top off soybean yield potential also sped up crop development. At one point Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension soybean specialist, was concerned about whether the crop would mature in time. Instead, except for double crops, it doesn't appear to be an issue. Soybeans have already been harvested in many fields, and many more are reaching maturity. One county Extension program scheduled for last week didn't draw much of a crowd because everybody was in the field. When the program was scheduled and speakers were lined up, it looked like harvest wouldn't even be underway in soybeans until perhaps this week.

Too little too late: Rain came too late in many areas to help soybeans which needed rain a month earlier. Yields may still be reasonable, but wont be the record breakers some envisioned as late as August 1.
Too little too late: Rain came too late in many areas to help soybeans which needed rain a month earlier. Yields may still be reasonable, but won't be the record breakers some envisioned as late as August 1.
The reversal in fortunes likely affected soybeans more than corn. Most corn fields got through the critical pollination period in good shape. Later-planted fields may have been affected more during grain fill. Farmers are anxiously awaiting whether or not the dry weather took the top off of corn yields too. However, corn yields reported so far are still running average or above. The state average corn yield is roughly 165 bushels per acre. Many believe that it's possible that overall, the state average could be reached this year, even though some fields are better than others.