August rains rejuvenate drought-stressed soybean crop
Casteel was quick to point out that conditions vary by region. The U.S. Drought Monitor (http://www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu/ ) update of Thursday (Aug. 30), for example, showed that most of the improvement in conditions was in northeast Indiana, where the drought was downgraded from severe to moderate, the second level of dryness. But some counties in southeast Indiana near Cincinnati deteriorated to extreme drought, the second-highest level.
"There really have been three drought scenarios in Indiana this year," he said. "Some areas have been dry all season long, some were dry early but then had timely rains, and other areas started out with rain but dried off late."
In the southwestern portion of the state, farmers have experienced exceptional drought throughout much of the season and still might not see much potential to preserve yield at this point. In parts of the state that started out dry but then got timely rains, soybeans are progressing well. This is especially true in the north-central and the northeast. The southeast had rain early but then dried off. Pod retention has been a problem in those areas.
Growers who do have soybeans to harvest will be able to take advantage of extremely high prices. Soybean futures for November 2012 and January 2013 are hovering around $17 per bushel. That's up nearly $6 per bushel from the November 2011 futures.
With prices that high, Casteel said growers need to be doing yield estimates for grain marketing.
He also said it's important for farmers to inspect plants for bean leaf beetles. The insect emerged earlier and at higher populations after a mild winter, which gave it time to produce a second generation that could now damage soybean yields.
"We need to be out in the fields looking for bean leaf beetles feeding on pods, not leaves," he said. "Treatment thresholds are going to be lower this year because soybean prices are so high."
More information about estimating soybean yields and bean leaf beetle is available in the Aug. 24 issue of Purdue Extension's Pest and Crop Newsletter at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2012/issue22/index.html