Almost any Indiana farmer you talk to thought he had a good thing going on soybeans, at least until about the second week of August. Yields of 70 bushels per acre or more were dancing in many farmers' heads, and rightfully so. Those who lucked out and received timely yields may still wind up in that category. However, it could be the exception rather than the rule.
For the fourth time in four years in major parts of Indiana, August has not been kind to soybeans during the reproduction cycle. Last year deserves an asterisk because it was really the period leading up to mid-August that took down all but full season varieties. With late August rains, even if yields were only average, bean size tended to be large.
That's not the case this year in most instances. Mark Lawson, a farmer and agronomist for Syngenta, based in Danville, says reports from his area tell him that there are too many pods with two beans where there could have been three, and that soybean size will likely be smaller than normal instead of larger than normal, to push out those 70 bushel yields. He's not hazarding a guess on how far yields may fall off, but he's betting that the top end will be trimmed off most fields.
Ironically, diseases showing up in soybeans won't help. Despite the shift to dry weather, white mold already had a start, particularly in northwest Indiana, as did sudden death syndrome and brown stem rot. As a result, these diseases may be severe enough to hurt yields in some fields, even though they are normally associated with wet seasons. It was wet when it counted for these diseases to begin development, and to continue growing in the field.
Farmers who once thought they had 70 bushel beans are now thinking 45 bushels per acre. Let's hope the loss won't be that severe.