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Serving: IN

Soybean Yield Puzzle Has an Easy Answer

Soybean Yield Puzzle Has an Easy Answer
Here's why soybeans in much of central Indiana averaged far less than those in east-central Indiana.

Suppose you had this choice to make. You had two rich uncles and a brother. One lived in Wayne County and owned 500 acres. The other lived in Hendricks County and owned five hundred acres. Since you're oldest, you get to choose which 500 acres who want free and clear. The only stipulation is that you're choosing it for farm ground, not to sell for development at any time in the future.

The answer seems obvious. On the whole, in the farming parts left in Hendricks County, soils are flatter and if tiled, more productive than many soils in Wayne County, where soils tend to be more rolling. It's why that county has been so suited for livestock production over the years.

If you made that choice this year, based on this year's soybean crop at least, you just made a mistake. One farmer with knowledge of the Wayne County and east-central Indiana area just reported that while their late-planted corn was only average, they raised the best soybean crop ever! Averages for whole farms were in the 50 bushel per acre range, and some individual fields tickled 70 bushels per acre. In central Indiana, including parts of Hendricks, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby and surrounding counties, a farm average of 35 to 40 bushels per acre on soybeans was considered lucky. A yield in the 50-bushel per acre level was exceptional. Yields as low as 8 bushels per acre for first crop soybeans were reported on more droughty ground.

So do the folks in east-central Indiana have the answer to breaking the glass ceiling on soybean yields? They did for 2011. It's very simple, one farmer reports. It's called getting an ample supply of rain in August. While they were dry early, when corn needed rain, many areas ion east-central Indiana picked up rains in August that their counterparts in central and southern Indiana simply didn't get.

Can a one-inch rain truly be worth a million dollars? One could argue that it might have been this year. A 20 bushel per acre increase for a rain during the critical reproductive stage on 1,000 acres is 20,000 bushels more beans. At $11 per bushel, that's $220,000. If the same rain hit 5,000 acres, there's more than a million dollars.

One rain, not any secret management tip, made the difference between a 35 bushel per acre soybean average and a 55-bushel per acre soybean average this year.
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