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Soybean planting, like corn, behind schedule in Ohio

Agriculture.com Staff 05/12/2009 @ 1:56pm

Like corn, soybean planting in Ohio is behind schedule, due to wet, cool soil conditions. But growers still have plenty of time to get the crop in the ground, according to a report from Ohio State University.

"It'd be nice if we had all of the soybeans in the ground by now, but it's not a disaster that we don't. If we can get planting done by the first week of June, we should be OK," says Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension soybean agronomist. "If we have a good fall with plenty of rainfall in August and September, we could have another year like in 2007 where we had no growth until after July, but we ended up with near record yields."

According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, 13% of soybeans have been planted, 6% behind this time last year and 24% behind the five-year average.

"We should be at least 25% in the ground by now," Beuerlein says. "But farmers have tremendous planting capacity. They will run day and night until the job is done. We can plant 10 million acres in this state in three weeks if we really get at it and the weather cooperates."

Even for crops that have been planted to date, cooler-than-normal soil temperatures are hampering germination.

"The soil temperature determines how fast things grow through mid-June," says Beuerlein. "Soil temperatures around the state have been several degrees cooler than normal."

At a soil temperature of 40 degrees, corn and soybeans will emerge in 30 to 40 days. At 53 degrees the plants need 16-20 days, and at a soil temperature of 66 degrees, they will need 8-10 days to emerge.

In northern Ohio, the soil temperatures finally got above 55 degrees the first week of May, about a week behind the soil in southern Ohio.

"So, any crop we planted in April has not grown well due to cold, wet soil conditions, but should speed up a bit as the soil gets warmer," Beuerlein says. "For soil temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees, the growth rate doubles for each 13-degree increase in soil temperature, which is why later planted crops emerge sooner, grow faster and get taller than earlier planted crops."

The threat for replanting will depend on what happens the 10 days after planting.

"If we have good conditions and the crop emerges well, there won't be any replanting. If we have a lot of rain and saturated soils there probably will be some replanting," Beuerlein says. "That's what happened last year. The crop was planted the end of first week of May and then we got 10 days of rain. Thousands of acres had to be replanted."

Beuerlein says that the cooler soils may be a blessing in disguise.

"Even if the soil temperatures had been higher and if we had a crop in the ground, the combined stresses of the very wet weather and soil-borne disease may have ruined the crop," he says. "Various strains of Pythium will infect corn and soybeans any time the soil is wet and the soil temperature is above 50 degrees. Fusarium is deadly in wet soil at temperatures from 58 to 75 degrees, and Phytophthora becomes very active in wet soil at around 65 degrees. So not having some crop planted by mid-May could be good for most farmers."

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