Soybean drop larger than expected

Cassandra Tkachuk, a production specialist with Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, says soybean crops were looking good across most of the province in late July. That’s a major improvement from June, when the crop was struggling in dry and cool conditions | Robert Arnason photo

CARBERRY, Man. — Soybean acres in Manitoba are down 500,000 acres from 2018.

Data from the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, the provincial crop insurer, indicates that soybean acres will be 1.39 million in 2019.

In comparison, Manitoba farmers planted 1.89 million acres of beans in 2018 and nearly 2.3 million acres in 2017.

The 500,000 acre decline isn’t shocking because soybean yields have been poor the last couple of years. Most fields generated yields of 25 to 35 bushels per acre in 2017 and 2018, much lower than yields of 35 to 50 bu. in previous years.

Dry summers and a lack of rain in late July to early August, which is the crucial period for pod fill, was the major reason for the disappointing yields.

Still, the acreage drop is larger than expected. In January Dennis Lange, a soybean and pulse specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, predicted acreage of 1.6 million.

In June, Agriculture Canada pegged Manitoba soybean acres at 1.47 million.

Many farmers turned away from beans or cut acres the last two years. However, based on crop conditions in the third week of July, soybean crops look more promising this summer.

“It depends on the region, but across the board I would say just ‘good,’ ” Cassandra Tkachuk, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers’s production specialist, said when describing the state of the crop.

“Some areas, like in the escarpment, they’ve had some really nice timely rains and it shows in their soybean crops.”

“Good” is an improvement from a month ago, when soybeans and most crops were in poor condition. Rain in late June and early July and daily highs of 28 to 31 C for much of July helped soybeans bounce back from the stressful conditions in spring.

“It’s been a pretty interesting year, where we’ve seen such a recovery of growing degree days and moisture,” Tkachuk said July 24 at Crops-a-Palooza, a field day in Carberry.

Looking ahead, soybean aphids may not be a huge problem this summer in Manitoba. High aphid pressure can cause major yield losses in soybeans when the pests blow in from the south.

“Numbers are still low, last I heard, in the northern edges of North Dakota and Minnesota,” Tkachuk said.

“I haven’t heard of any reports in Manitoba.”

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