AUBURN, Ala.—The drought plaguing crops in Alabama has put producers in precarious positions as they harvest cotton, soybeans and peanuts this fall.
Soybean producers throughout the state have reported issues with pod shattering, as they harvest in record-breaking dry conditions.
Alabama Cooperative Extension System Soybean Specialist, Dr. Dennis Delaney, said soybean pod shattering is a result of droughty conditions throughout the state.
“The hot and windy, low humidity days can cause shattering,” Delaney said. “The pod walls shrink and are brittle, so they can shatter standing in the field—especially when the combine first contacts them.”
Reports of Shattering
Soybean producers generally receive pay based on 13 percent water content. While farmers can receive deductions for beans with a moisture content much over 13 percent, they do not get paid extra for low moisture. In this case, producers would lose out on about four percent of potential income.
Delaney said he’s seen several fields where the soybean plants died prematurely from the drought, including the Cullars Rotation on campus. The soybean plants in the Cullars Rotation didn’t even have time to shed leaves before they died.
This has led to seeds that didn’t fill out, and are very small. Those small, lightweight seeds can be hard to keep in the combine and prevent from blowing out the back with residue.
Many of the seeds are still green which can discolor soybean oil, leading to more deductions. This issue is mostly in late-planted soybeans after wheat which, usually amount to more than half of the soybean acreage in Alabama.
In contrast, some farmers with early-planted soybeans—planted in April and May—that caught rains at critical growing times reported some very good yields.
For information on soybean shattering during harvest or assistance with harvest issues, contact your local extension agent. Visit Alabama Extension’s Coping with Drought website at www.aces.edu/drought for more resources and information.