Low Soybean Populations Pack On Pods

"The other thing crop scouts noticed is that farmers were not planting the fields quite as thick as they had in the past. They're finding that smaller plant population leads to the plant putting more pods on the plant instead of fighting for space in that row.”

( Betsy Jibben )

Over the past three days of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour scouts have discovered an impressive looking soybean crop. While scouts don’t measure soybean yield on the tour, they do count the number of pods in a 3’ x 3’ square. 

In Nebraska, the number of pods in a 3’ x 3’ square is up an impressive 14.9%. According to Steve Wilson, Pro Farmer market analyst and leader of the western leg of the crop tour, scouts think it’s because the fields were planted thinner. 

“[Soybeans] were setting pods just after July 4. Very unusual. So, the plant basically got stressed enough. That it said, ‘Oh my gosh, I gotta get to the end.’… So, we ended up with almost 15% more pods counted this year than last year, at just under 1300 from 1131 a year ago,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Wednesday. “So it's a big increase. The other thing crop scouts noticed is that farmers were not planting the fields quite as thick as they had in the past. They're finding that smaller plant population leads to the plant putting more pods on the plant instead of fighting for space in that row.”

Brian Grete who leads the eastern leg of the Crop Tour said they too found thinner fields, but not quite to the extent Jeff’s scouts did. Still, he says, the Indiana crop is a good one. In fact, pod counts are up 12.2% there. 

“It’s a really good bean crop, a lot of pods out there, Chip,” he said. “You know, sometimes we count everything that's quarter inch or bigger and some years we're counting a lot of really small quarter inch, half inch and all those type of pods, not the case this year. The pods that are there are big and they're plump and they have moisture we got rained on again yesterday. So, they are you know, their soil moisture was decent, and I've got another drink so they're in good shape to finish strong I think.”

When it comes to soybeans, what’s in the field is what will run through the combine. 

“This bean crop is what it is,” Flory said. “It’s not like we’re going to be adding pods or anything like that because the development of this bean crop is ahead of normal.”

Listen to Wilson, Grete and Flory banter about the Crop Tour below:

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