Soybean harvest really looked promising!

"We have some of the tallest soybeans I've ever seen," said my husband as we walked through the field a few weeks ago.

Last summer, the unseasonable rains began at the end of July and lasted into August. We ended up with nearly 10 inches of rain at a time when we usually get next to no rain! The soybeans were just getting growing and the added moisture allowed them to grow tall and hearty!

As they began to set on pods, though, the weather took a drastic change in Kansas. More normal temperatures and moisture levels, combined with regular Kansas winds dried the fields out quickly and sapped moisture from every plant. By early September, the soybeans were suffering.

We have no field that is irrigated. We grow dryland crops,  including corn, wheat, milo and soybeans. The soybeans this year were tall and had multiple pods on each plant, but we worried that the pods were filling during the hottest, driest time of the year. Normally, the plant has little extra moisture, so it doesn't put energy into growing tremendously tall. Instead it uses the available moisture to fill the seed pods.

Our drive around the county to look at our various fields showed that we had tall beans, and a good pod-fill. We hoped for a pretty good crop.  Before harvest, soybeans need to be nearly totally dry and dead looking. The beans must be dry enough to not rot or mold in the bins. We usually wait for a freeze to kill off the last of the green in the fields before we try to harvest beans.
At the last field, we found a surprise. This field is about 5 miles north of the rest of our land, and we had heard rumors of a local hailstorm a couple of weeks before. We hoped that it was just rumors, but what we found in this field confirmed that the hail had definitely hit our field and decimated the harvest.  When the beans are dry, the pods are fragile and will break open easily. That is what happened when the hail hit. The pods now hand twisted on the stems--empty.  A few lower pods that may have been protected a bit from the hail had smaller beans still in them.
When we finally harvested the various fields, the beans yielded around 30-35 bushels to the acre in the good fields, and only 6 bushels per acre in the hail-damaged field.  That is what crop insurance is for! At the time of planting, we must decide if it is financially a good decision to pay the premium for crop insurance. What kind of risk do we run each year of a weather incident ruining our yield? Looks like a pretty good risk! Yes, there are many years that we do not have a claim to collect on, but with the years of drought and uncertain weather in Kansas, we usually do purchase crop insurance.


  1. Our beans did awful here in Indiana! We didn't get the late summer rain we needed. Very rare for our area! I am glad you guys had a decent crop. It's too bad about the hail damage. :(

  2. My parents in Missouri say their soybean harvest is looking good, too. They still have corn to harvest...still not dry enough yet!


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