Farm Horizons, Nov. 2006

2006 crop a pleasant surprise

By Dave Schwartz

Soybean Product Manager/AgronomistGold Country Seed

I was worried about our crop the weekend before Farmfest, July 29 and 30, when temperatures rose to the 100 degree mark.

Our crop was already under severe drought stress, suffering from a month of record-setting high temperatures, and little, if any, rainfall.

Then, Aug. 1, the first day of Farmfest, much of southern Minnesota received one to four inches of rainfall. This was truly a muti-million dollar rain for growers in this part of the state.

I am hearing good to excellent soybean yield reports from growers in the Farm Horizons distribution area. Many growers are reporting soybean yields in the upper 40s to as much as 60 bushels per acre.

This is remarkable, considering the growing season we had. Soybean plants blossom over a 35- to 40-day period, so rainfall anytime during that period triggers pod set. This is why soybeans are less sensitive to drought than corn.

As I’m writing this article (Oct. 9), little, if any, corn has been harvested, but it appears corn came through the growing season well.

I’m amazed how yields can be so high considering the hot, dry growing season. I’m sure the more than three-inch rainfall we received around May 1 helped carry the crop through July and August.

Fields went into June with soil moisture near field capacity. In clay loam soils, this is 10 to 11 inches of available water in the upper five feet of soil. Crop roots can grow at least this deep in search of moisture when rainfall is limiting.

A grower once told me that if he had good soil moisture in spring, he expected a minimum of half a crop, and with a few timely rains during the growing season, a good crop. I think he was right.

I have jokingly referred to livestock manure as “miracle grow,” because it seems to outperform commercial fertilizer. This year, it was easy to pick out corn fields where livestock manure had been applied. They appeared to come through the stress much better. When nearby corn fields were firing at the base of the plant, manured fields remained green. Evidently, the high soil fertility livestock manure provides helped get plants through the stress. I will be surprised if growers don’t see a nice yield response.

I would be interested in hearing your comments. You can contact me at

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