soybean news, northern soy marketing

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring.” 

Soybean growers in the Upper Midwest have had their fair share of rainfall so far this growing season. According to the USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, “variable rainfall in the nation’s mid-section included widespread thunderstorms across the Northern and Central Plains and Upper Midwest.” But farmers across Northern Soy Marketing (NSM) member states are taking it one day at a time. 

“To date, we’ve had 30 inches of rain,” said NSM Director Nancy Kavazanjian, who farms in Wisconsin. “We have rolling ground here so there are a lot of puddles and drowned out spots.” 

Despite the wet conditions, Kavazanjian hasn’t had issues with weed control yet, but depending on Mother Nature, it could be a forthcoming problem. 

“We put a pre-plant down and we were able to get weed control on in a timely manner,” Kavazanjian said. “But it’s hard to say what’s going to happen now with all of the rain and how much more they’re going to grow and how effective that weed control will be.” 

While rain makes soybeans grow, rain also breeds weeds, pests and diseases.  

“One of the challenges that we are going through because of the rainfall is getting herbicides applied across the fields,” University of Wisconsin-Madison Researcher Shawn Conley said. “It’s critical to spray the weeds when they’re small enough to be controlled by the products that we have, especially for combatting waterhemp and giant ragweed, which are the two biggest weed issues for Wisconsin growers.” 

Soybean root systems may also prove to be problematic with weather conditions Mother Nature has sent growers. 

“If it gets dry after these wet springs, it’s really bad for soybeans because they have a shallow root system,” Conley said. “If we continue to get timely rainfalls, we’ll be fine but there’s a lot of soybeans that were planted in marginal soil. What I mean by that is that they were planted in the mud so there is going to be some compaction out there so the root system isn’t very deep.” 

The USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Update also pointed out that “it was the nation’s 15th wettest spring since 1895 … Wetter springs have occurred only four times since the beginning of the 21st century: in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019.”  

In South Dakota, NSM Director David Struck didn’t wrap up planting until June 10 because of continual rainfall.  

“Getting everything planted was a struggle,” Struck said. “We were probably 10 days to two weeks behind normal. We couldn’t get the corn stalks from the previous year to dry out, but we finally got about a four-day window where it got warm and low humidity, and we were able to get the soybeans planted.” 

Because planting was delayed, Struck didn’t have replant situations like growers who planted before the rains began and drowned out the crop. 

“Maybe it was a blessing we didn’t get it planted in the first place because we didn’t have to replant any acres,” Struck said. “Now we are just playing the waiting game until we have to start spraying. Right now, our pre-emergents are holding really well, so I’m guessing we won’t have to start spraying until after the Fourth of July.” 

Compared to southeast South Dakota, Struck is considering himself lucky to only have gotten four inches of rain in the last week. Portions of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota are experiencing devastating floods, leaving entire towns underwater. In Sioux City, South Dakota, flooding caused a  railroad bridge to collapse and in Rapidan, Minnesota, a dam suffered partial failure. 

“They really have a mess down there,” Struck said. “There are places that have reported 18 inches of rain just in the last three days. That’s tropical – a lot of times we only get 18 inches the entire growing season.” 

In NSM Director Glen Groth’s region in southeast Minnesota, conditions aren’t quite as dire as other areas.  

“It’s been plenty wet, but we haven’t had near the volume of rain that other parts of the state are experiencing,” Groth said. “There are a few spots here and there with standing water in the fields but overall, the crops are looking very good.” 

The great thing about Mother Nature is that the weather can change in the blink of an eye. This is what soybean growers across the Upper Midwest keep reminding themselves. 

“We need the sun to come out now,” Kavazanjian said. “We don’t want the rain to stop completely – we want about an inch a week – but it’d be nice to have some sunshine.