While soybean harvest is already well under way across Kansas, late plantings, increased double-crop beans and recent rains have slowed progress in the Southeast.

Short stints of drought-like conditions and variable weather caused challenges for producers this year, largely based on location.

“There’s been a lot of variability this year,” said Wildcat Extension District crop production agent James Coover. “Some places in the Cherryvale-Independence area didn’t get hardly any rain through the last 45 days of grain fill. Here, around Parsons, and in Crawford County, there were pockets that had more rain where conditions were a lot better.”

Even with recent rains, Coover said soybean dry down and preparations for harvest have already begun.

“On average beans will dry down and lose their moisture by about 3% per day,” Coover said. “We’ll start out at about 80% moisture and then dry down to less than 20% which signals harvest time, but there is a lot of variability in that.”

Southeast Kansas harvest is projected from as soon as field conditions are favorable through Thanksgiving. Yields, however, may be more difficult to predict.

Similar to corn yields this season, soybean results, whether double-crop or full season, may vary widely from farm to farm.

“There are going to be a lot of winners and losers this year on yield based on location,” Coover said.

While the battle for more yield may be over for 2021 soybeans, there are a lot of lessons left to be learned in the field this season.

“At this point, the main concern for farmers is that there was a lot of uneven yellowing in the field,” Coover said. “That’s very common, especially in a year like this where they’ve had a lot of stress.”

Uneven yellowing occurs when one portion of a field begins its end of life process before the other due to stress. Many factors can contribute to uneven yellowing including too much rain, uneven soil texture, edges of roads, and proximity to trees.

Coover said often soil yellowing may even mimic the size and shape of a planter pass, but the root cause has little to do with equipment.

Instead, uneven yellowing can be an indicator of problem areas in the field and serve as a roadmap for future field improvement.

“A farmer can see those yellow spots in the field easily and often they are indicators of problem areas,” Coover said. “Soybean cyst nematodes or other possible disease issues can trigger the yellowing, so it’s good to target testing in those areas.”

In addition to soil testing, Coover said now is a good time to consider treating or scouting wheat fields for armyworms. While the persistent little bugs had minimal damage to soybean fields this fall, newly planted wheat fields are at risk for more activity before the first hard frost.

“The period between egg to moth to egg is 30 to 40 days based on the weather,” Coover said. “In wheat fields planted before this last rain, it could be germinated and green before the eggs already in the field hatch.”

Coover said many fall forage fields from brome to Bermuda fell victim to armyworm activity this fall, so it’s best to keep the threat of armyworm activity at the front of mind until temperatures cool.

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