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Soybeans hanging tough, but for how long?

July 23, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

Second of a periodic series on some of the impact from this summer's dry conditions.

MARSHALL - Soybean farmers are waiting on the rain forecast for this week, but they're going to need more than last Thursday's amount to do any good.

Soybeans are more drought hardy than corn, but at this point are moving into a stage in their growth where moisture stress will start to take a toll on the crop, experts say.

"Up until a week ago they weren't affected too much unless you had a certain sandy soil type," said Craig Bangasser, director of the Minnesota Soy Research and Promotion Council, who farms near Fulda. "I always say 'Soy is made in August,' but we're ahead of schedule in development because of the dryness."

The regional soybean crop is going to need more than a half-inch of rain to have a lasting impact, depending on soil type, according to Bangasser.

"We depend on our heavy soil profile to wold water through these dry periods," Bangasser said, "and when we don't have either, the crop withers up and dies."

What is critical about this time, according to Liz Stahl, University of Minnesota Extension Educator at the Worthington office, is the soybean crop is moving early into the flowering and early pod fill stage when the moisture demand is highest.

As of July 22, 43 percent of soybeans around the state were setting pods, according to the Minnesota Ag News, Stahl said.

"We're moving into that stage very shortly," Stahl said. "It typically happens in August. Soy responds to day length, but to heat as well. If we can get moisture that'll help a lot. If not, we're going to start seeing a lot of crop loss."

This week's forecast included a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms Monday night, and a 40 percent of rain today and Wednesday, followed by what looks to be the start of another dry period.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that statewide, topsoil moisture supplies held relatively steady, and were rated 21 percent very short, 35 percent short, 40 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus.



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