Prolonged Drought and Heat Pose Threat to Midwest Soybean Yields. Agriculture; Cereals; AgTech; Cultures
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Prolonged Drought and Heat Pose Threat to Midwest Soybean Yields

Key Takeaways

  • Prolonged drought and record-high temperatures affect soybean yields in crucial growing states across the Midwest.
  • The situation is particularly concerning as most crops are in the critical pod-setting phase, which relies on moisture.
  • A recent research brief from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange indicates that the U.S. supply could tighten further if these conditions persist.

Impact on Crop Yields

Persistent dry conditions and heatwaves in August are causing significant concerns for farmers in the Midwest. Most soybean crops are currently in the pod-setting phase, highly dependent on moisture. Scouts participating in the recent Pro Framer Crop Tour reported sporadic and highly variable yields for corn and soybeans, especially in the western Corn Belt.

Greater Risk for Soybeans

According to the findings, soybeans have a much greater risk of yield loss due to ongoing heat stress than corn. Tanner Ehmke, lead grains and oilseeds economist for CoBank, who was among the scouts on the crop tour, observed the pods being aborted due to the triple-digit heat. “If hot and dry conditions in the Midwest continue and yield loss for soybeans increases, the U.S. soybean supply will tighten further,” warned Ehmke.

Decline in Planted Acreage

A new research brief from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange revealed that the supply situation is tighter than that for corn. The USDA estimates that planted acreage fell by 4.6% year-over-year this spring, reaching the lowest level since 2020.

Additional Stress Factors

Besides drought and heat stress, scouts also noticed the presence of sudden death syndrome and white mold in the fields. These factors add another layer of complexity to the already challenging growing conditions.

Silver Lining for Processors

Despite the adverse conditions, high temperatures late in the growing season are associated with higher soybean oil content, according to the United States Soybean Quality Annual Report. This is particularly noteworthy given the strong demand for renewable diesel and historically high soybean oil prices relative to soybean meal prices. “The combination of higher oil extraction and higher oil prices will benefit processors,” said Ehmke. He added that while the buy basis for co-ops and processors will be higher in the forthcoming crop year for soybeans, processor margins are expected to remain strong.

Read more here.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash 

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