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Central North Dakota soybeans look about average after wet start and dry summer

Zach Perleberg of PDL Agronomy says soybean conditions are variable in Stutsman County after a wet planting season followed by a relatively dry summer. Disease pressures have been less than in a normal year, but weed pressures are a big problem, he told the Agweek Corn and Soybean Tour.

A man in a cap, sunglasses and a polo shirt holds a soybean plant.
Zach Perleberg said wet conditions early caused some late planting and increased weed pressures in Stutsman County, North Dakota, soybeans, while dry conditions through the summer kept soybean pods from filling as well as they would have with adequate moisture. Photo taken Aug. 30, 2022, southeast of Medina, North Dakota.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek
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MEDINA, N.D. — A wet spring followed by a mostly dry summer has been the story of soybeans in Stutsman County.

Zach Perleberg, owner of PDL Agronomy in Medina, works with clients throughout much of Stutsman County, in central North Dakota, and north into Wells County. Taking out 2021, when the area was mired in drought, it hasn't been unusual to see top-end soybean fields run 35 to 45 bushel per acre in the area, Perleberg said. This year, he expects to see a lot of 25 to 30 bushel beans.

Looking at some pods at the top of a plant, Perleberg on Aug. 30 pointed out some pods that hadn't developed and a few that had aborted a third seed. With adequate moisture, there would have been bigger pods, more three-bean pods and more clusters of pods.

If it would rain, he said, some top pods might still fill better and improve yields in some places. And while lighter soils and hills might not perform well, the low spots and heavier soils look good or at least "not as bad as a guy thinks," he said.

A man's hand holds a soybean plant. Focus is on the pods of the plant, which vary in size and the number of beans inside.
Zach Perleberg of PDL Agronomy points out varying soybean pods on a plant southeast of Medina, North Dakota, on Aug. 30, 2022. Some pods haven't developed completely and some had aborted a third bean.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek

Stutsman County in 2021 planted the highest number of soybean acres in the nation, with 463,000 acres, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. In preliminary data released Aug. 22, the USDA estimated that 987,000 acres in North Dakota intended for soybeans had been put into prevented planting. However, Perleberg thinks that Stutsman County soybean acres won't be too far off of normal. Later planting is more common with soybeans than with corn, he said, though the wet spring may have reduced soybean acreage slightly.

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A soybean field has heavy patches of weeds in it.
Kochia and water hemp have been problem weeds in Stutsman County, North Dakota, soybean fields in 2022, Zach Perleberg says. The weeds got a start thanks to early wet conditions and late planting. Photo taken Aug. 30, 2022, near Medina, North Dakota.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek

The wet spring has helped create weed problems.

"Late seeding — the weeds didn't get a late start," Perleberg said. "They got an early start. They had a lot of moisture. So we started out dirty. We've been fighting that all year."

Farmers who used pre-emergence herbicides had a better time keeping weed pressure down.

"We've been seeing a lot of water hemp," he said, noting that kochia had been the main issue earlier.

He would like to see more farmers in his area use the XtendFlex or Enlist platforms "to help with late-season flush."

Despite the late planting, Perleberg said longer-maturing varieties are looking better. Earlier maturities have less time to flower.

"Soybeans need more time to mature when they're seeded late," he said.

But using a longer-maturing variety also means the soybeans need a later frost. According to the National Weather Service, the average first frost in Jamestown — east of Medina in Stutsman County — is Sept. 29.

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A patch of soybeans is less developed than ones elsewhere in the field due to lighter soil.
Soybeans planted on lighter soils or on hills may not yield well in 2022 due to dry conditions, but Zach Perleberg of PDL Agronomy says beans on heavier soil and low spots are better than they appear. Photo taken Aug. 30, 2022, near Medina, North Dakota.
Jenny Schlecht / Agweek

Stutsman County tends to see issues with white mold — especially east of Jamestown — as well as sudden death syndrome and charcoal rot. The white mold issues haven't been as bad as usual because of dry conditions, but Perleberg said he has seen some charcoal rot and sudden death syndrome.

"Disease pressure is not as bad as years past," he said.

The same goes for spider mites or aphids, which tend to come in wetter, cooler years. However, there is a pest that thrives on the dry conditions.

"With it being drier, we're starting to see more grasshoppers," Perleberg said. "I've had quite a few customers that've had to spray for grasshoppers, especially in fields like this with field strips. They seem to like to be in there."

Jenny Schlecht is the editor of Agweek and Sugarbeet Grower Magazine. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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