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Soybeans respond to drought – Audio

[audio:|titles=2012 Wisconsin Soybean Crop]

Shawn Conley, Extension Wheat and Soybean Agronomist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-7975

The 2012 Wisconsin soybean crop

3:03 Total Time
0:17 – Soybean in hot, dry weather
0:56 – How long can soybeans last under stress
1:42 – 2012 soybean yield forecast
2:20 – Research pipeline
2:53 – Lead out


The soybean growing season in Wisconsin. We’re visiting today with Shawn Conley, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie Kenyon: I’d like you to describe what happens to the plant during these dry, hot phases.

Shawn Conley: Normally, it will root relatively close to the soil surface but now we’re seeing it tap root following the water line to recover some of that water. In this extremely dry conditions what we’ll see is the plant will begin to shut down it’s respiration to limit water loss out of its stomata, so they’ll close early. Then what we’ll see is the leaves will actually flip over so that you’ll see the underside of the leaves, again, it’s just a defense mechanism to help restrain the amount of water loss going from the plant. The plant kind of shuts down and goes into a self-protection mode at this point, just to try and make it as long as it can.

Sevie Kenyon: How long can soybean last in these stressed conditions?

Shawn Conley: Unlike corn where you have a very narrow window, about a week to ten days, soybeans actually have about a month; Fourth of July to about August fourth is that window. Soybeans are very plastic in that they are very responsive to the environment, so what they’ll do is they will abort flowers early on but they’ll keep flowering and putting on new flowers until the rainfall hits. Then it can capture that rainfall and you’ll see, after a good rainfall, all of the sudden the plant will be loaded with flowers and it will try and set pods very quickly and move forward and try to compensate for this. So, again, it’s a very plastic crop that’s very responsive to the environment in terms of the water use.

Sevie Kenyon: Shawn, what are your predictions for yields?

Shawn Conley: I start with 50 bushels and I give myself plus or minus 50 bushels. So, somewhere between 0 and 100 bushels is where we’re going to be at. I mean, realistically, we’re still set up for trend in terms of soybean yield on all the acres that had good weed control early that were established well, especially in the no-till environments. We’re really going to see a separation between those soybean fields that were tilled versus no tilled. I guess, in short, gross basing is going to pay dividends, no till is going to pay dividends and good early season weed control is going to be the key factors in 2012.

Sevie Kenyon: Shawn, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you have in the research pipeline.

Shawn Conley: We have a very extensive research pipeline and this is the biggest plot year we’ve ever had. So, we’ve got over 10,500 plots across the state of Wisconsin. A lot of it is looking at what can we do to increase the sustainability that growers are doing on-farm as well as increasing yields. So, it’s kind of looking at ways to utilize resources and inputs in the best manner to protect our soil and protect our environment as well as increase yield. So, that’s kind of where my entire research program is focused at right now.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Shawn Conley, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.