Soybeans A Bright Spot – for Sep. 9, 2010

Manitoba soybean growers are poised to harvest a great crop, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Despite the heavy rains this spring that destroyed or damaged cereals and canola across the province, there will be average to above-average soybean yields barring an early frost or other calamities, Brent Reid, a farm production manager with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) at Dugald, said in an interview Sept. 1.

“It looks pretty good,” Reid said. “We’ve got lots of nodes on each plant, lots of pods at each node and lots of seeds in each pod for the most part.

“If they can continue to fill OK without a frost or major problem, the weight should be good and again that should be another positive for yield.”

Soybeans averaged 28.2 bushels an acre between 2001 and 2009, according to Manitoba Agricultural Ser vice Corporat ion’s (MASC) Management Plus data. Last year soybeans averaged 29.7 bushels an acre. The record was 37 bushels an acre, harvested in 2007.

Most Manitoba soybeans should be mature enough by Sept. 15 to handle frost, Reid said. Last week some fields were starting to turn yellow. When pods are yellow they can tolerate light frost and by the time most turn brown they can withstand a heavy frost, he said.

“Right now I think we are right on with where we would expect to be for maturity at this time of the year,” Reid said.

While it felt like a warm summer, especially last month, the crop heat units (CHU) received as of Aug. 29 were just slightly higher than normal. Carman for example had received 2267 CHU, or 100 per cent of normal, and Starbuck at 2385 was six per cent higher than normal; Morden’s 2238 were six per cent lower than normal.

A year ago, many farmers were worried their soybeans might not mature in time, but thanks to a warmer-than- normal September, most did.

“Last year we dodged a bullet – a very big one,” Reid said.


Soybeans have a reputation for tolerating wet conditions better than most crops and 2010 has added to it, Reid agreed.

“Every year we’re amazed at the ability of soybeans to handle the excess moisture compared to some of the other crops,” he said.

In some cases there have been fields of canola written off due to flooding, while a field of soybeans remains right beside it, he said.

Soybeans seem to “put themselves on hold” and then start growing again after conditions improve, Reid said. Excessively wet soils don’t do soybeans any good, he added – but any plant that isn’t dead, has potential.

Soybeans have been performing so well under wet conditions, some farmers are talking about growing many more acres of the oil-seed- protein crop next year, Reid said. But his recommendation is to be cautious.

“You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket,” he said.

“There’s room for having a mix of crops. Canola is a cool-season crop and soybeans are a warm-season crop.”

This year’s soybean crop has good potential for a number of reasons, Reid said. Most fields were seeded in mid-May, the ideal time. There has been enough heat and ample rain. The crop, in many places, got off to a good start and wasn’t stressed during flowering and pollination.

Some fields are suffering from white mould (sclerotinia), but it isn’t widespread, Reid said. While the fungal disease likes wet conditions, it also prefers cooler temperatures than we’ve had.

In most soybean fields, neither aphids nor green cloverworms reached high enough populations to make spraying economic this year.

The south-central Manitoba farmers who have completed their cereal and canola harvest are anxious to move into the soybeans, Reid said. But he’s urging patience.

“Don’t get too anxious… and use a desiccant to try and hasten maturity,” Reid said.

“Use the whole summer that we’ve been given and that will translate into yield. Don’t be too quick pulling that trigger.”

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About the author


Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.



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