Handling a Late Soybean Harvest

Due to heavy rainfall over the past few weeks, your soybean harvest may have gotten delayed. Excessively wet weather has resulted in reports of moldy soybeans, elevator dockage and field losses across many seed brands. In comparison to corn, soybeans are a more delicate crop once maturity is reached. With alternating wet and dry weather patterns, soybeans are even more fragile than usual this fall.

Minimize soybean pod shatter
Although Golden Harvest soybeans are bred to withstand greater environmental stressors than ever before, there is still a chance of pod shatter under extremely wet weather conditions. When this happens, soybeans may drop and/or become exposed to the environment. Pathogen exposure can lead to mold and disease. To minimize elevator dockage, dry and market moldy soybeans as soon as possible. When drying soybeans, avoid high temperatures since too much heat can crack the seed and hull. To reduce the chance of splitting seed coats from air-drying, relative humidity should be greater than 40%

Pictured above are moldy soybean pods that have shattered due to excess rainfall.

Harvesting late-season soybeans
Harvesting late-season soybeans is especially challenging when fields receive too much moisture. Use the following strategies to help minimize soybean loss:
  • Wait until soil can support machinery: Hold off on combining until the ground is dry enough that soil compaction won’t damage your field and continue reducing yields several years later. 
  • Monitor moisture levels: Although soybeans can be harvested at a moisture of 20% or less, add 1.5% to the calculated rate. Moisture monitors often underestimate high moisture beans.
  • Combine carefully: Wet soybeans are tougher to cut, so make sure your header is sharp and reduce combine speed to cut the crop more uniformly.
  • Keep thorough harvest records: If getting docked for moldy soybeans at the elevator is a concern, check with your seed supplier about potential damage discounts. 

Being aware of late soybean harvest challenges will help you maximize return on contaminated crops. Contact your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights.

Photos are either the property of Syngenta or used under agreement.

Syngenta hereby disclaims liability for third-party websites.


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