Lingering autumn rains hurt Missouri’s miracle bean crop

Duane Dailey

The miracle-crop soybean may meet its match in the weather this year. Not just a double whammy, drought and rain, but a multi-whammy.

Drought is bad. Rain is good. That’s the usual formula for the bean to make a record crop and save the day for farmers. I’ve reported how the soybean can look like a goner but revive with a hurricane rain in September.

For a while, it looked like that again. Drought hit hard this summer, then early fall rains made a crop for many.

But then rains stayed and didn’t quit. It wasn’t a lot of rain in many cases but an endless drizzle stops harvest. Beans not picked early now suffer more than just delayed harvest.

There’s a side story to the soy crop report. In the middle of the weather drama, our Soy Doc Bill Wiebold faded and folded. A heart attack took him out of the game. No weekly updates on crop reports from the University of Missouri Extension professor of crop management.

Here’s good news. A quick trip to the emergency room, followed by a stent got him back on the repair list.

I’ve been through repair and know it works. One of Bill’s first e-mails, I think, was to me. He said he was trying to keep up with the journalist.

My response was: Don’t believe doctors saying you’ll have quick recovery. I told him to multiply recovery by three or four times.

Of course, he thought he could attend Soybean Day about three days after the implant. Back when, I thought I could go to work the next week, also.

Hearts don’t have miracle genes of soybeans. Heart repair takes time, a long time.

More good news: There’s a long wrap-up on soybean damage in MU crop management newsletter this week.

Wiebold is back in top form.

He tells the damage lack of rain causes. That ranges from death to delayed growth. Beans are fewer and smaller, on and on.

The new part of his report is the big impact of wet weather.

In the past, hurricanes brought needed fall moisture to Missouri.

This year more and bigger hurricanes hit on U.S. agriculture. This is different. Those who don’t believe in climate change need to open their eyes. Or stick their hand out to feel a different kind of rain.

The 2018 hurricanes were huge. Warmer ocean water powers big storms. They lift more moisture into the atmosphere. Eventually that water falls back to earth, or hangs in the air. Both keep our harvest weather moist. Crops don’t dry with constant drizzle or damp fogs.

I check AgEBB weather updates from Sanborn Field in mid-campus. It’s amazing the rainfalls with under 0.04 inches for a day.

That rain doesn’t add subsoil moisture, but, does damage unpicked beans.

Pods won’t dry, but, they split and spill beans. Also, leaves dried and dropped. But stems didn’t dry. Those green stems complicate harvest, Wiebold writes.

In some cases seeds stay green as well. Also, they are smaller than usual, so combines must be adjusted to not lose them. Finally fungi enter pods, starting rot before harvest.

From that, more harvested beans will be docked at the elevator.

News stories tell more woes. Wild weather down south slows moving beans down river for export. That backs up storage problems at northern elevators.

With slow movement of beans, elevators pay more attention to dockage.

I’ve yet to see good news from our miracle crop this fall.

It’s good news that Soy Doc writes and brings his sense of humor. We’ll need that before harvest ends.

Share your good news on corn and soybean crops this year. For a while it looked like Missouri was having all the bad luck. Now, other states report snow stopping harvest. Look for good news where you find it. No snow before first frost here. Well that’s a stretch.

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