Dennis Lange started rating various soybean varieties for maturity Aug. 20 and the same day he heard some soybeans were harvested near Roland.
“On average I would say we’re about two weeks earlier than normal based on when I normally start maturity ratings in the plots,” Lange, Manitoba Agriculture’s pulse crop specialist, said in an interview Aug. 29. “Usually I will start just before the (September) long weekend, so I always end up doing maturity ratings on the long weekend.”
Lange suspects the soybeans harvested near Roland were an early variety produced for seed.
“And on top of that you have dry conditions,” he said. “When you have dry conditions that does hasten maturity.
“It can also shorten up the yield quite a bit too.”
The Roland soybeans yielded around 32 bushels an acre. As of last week Lange estimated Manitoba’s soybean crop will average 28 to 30 bushels an acre, down from an average of 34 bushels last year.
The 10-year average for crop insured average for soybeans is 36.
The record, set in 2016, is 42.
There will be fields that yield much better than 30 bushels and acre, he said.
“I know because I’ve seen fields that look way better than that,” Lange said. “But also there are fields that I’ve seen that have large saline areas that prematurely killed soybeans off almost two weeks prior, making it almost three or four weeks earlier. You’re not going to get much yield out of those. The fields I think will probably do the best, you may not have a lot of pods on the plants, but what you will have is a consistent number of pods and consistent number of plants — corner to corner.
“When you see plants corner to corner it makes up for not having as many pods on a plant. I’m thinking the later-season ones are probably going to have a bit better yield this year because they’re just hanging on longer.”
Two years of dry weather have added to salinity issues as evaporating soil moisture brings salts closer to the soil surface, Lange said.
“I am hearing from some of the western growers and some of my colleagues out west that fields with a lot of salinity that’s really hitting the soybeans hard,” he said. “We might get some 40s in the Altona region on some good clay ground that caught a few extra rains, but by the same token we’re probably going to see some 20 to 25s this year too, which we haven’t seen in a few years.”
The worst average soybean yield in recent years was 26 bushels an acre in 2011, Lange said.
“That was a dry year, but it was a dry year in pockets where growers were getting 15 to 20 bushels (an acre) in that Starbuck area where other areas weren’t as bad and we didn’t have as many soybeans out west — only five per cent of our acres,” he said.
Higher-than-expected soybean yields are possible, Lange added, noting how oat, wheat and canola yields exceeded expectations given the hot, dry growing conditions.
“I don’t think we’ll be as bad as 2011 (for soybean yields),” he said. “I think we’ll be less than last year. There are some nice looking fields around. We’ll see when it’s all said and done.”
Lange accurately predicted soybean yields the last two years, but said he’ll be pleased if yields exceed his forecast.