COLLEGE STATION – Soybean producers had a hit-or-miss growing season this year as the timing of arid conditions and rain factored heavily into yields, according to Texas A&M AgriLife experts.

Dr. Clark Neely, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service small grains and oilseed specialist, College Station, said timing was everything for soybean producers.


The soybean harvest is underway and A&M AgriLife experts say 2016 will be a hit-or-miss year for producers due to delayed planting from spring rains; arid mid-summer conditions and delayed harvests following late-August rains. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Neely said soybean fields in the southeast looked good early, but struggled through hot, dry summer days in June and July before August rains arrived. Weeks of arid summer conditions did  their part to inhibit plant production. Pods were plentiful and looked good on plants, but many pods did not fill, he said.

The rains came too late to help the plants produce, but arrived in time to cause more problems for producers.

For weeks, rain events prevented some producers from accessing fields that were ready for harvest and beans rotted in their pods, he said. Even soybean trials at College Station performed poorly due to the conditions.

“The timing of the rains couldn’t have been worse,” he said. “They were ready for harvest and had to sit in the fields for two weeks or more.”

Russell Sutton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research assistant research scientist, Commerce, said results varied from region to region. Planting time seemed to be the biggest factor for plants in the northern part of the state.

Some fields performed well while others failed to meet expectations, he said.

Sutton said fields planted early had time to establish and took advantage of spring rains before the summer heat arrived. Late-planted fields didn’t fare so well. He estimated some early planted fields yielded up to 40 bushels per acre while some late-planted fields struggled to make 20 bushels per acre.

“A lot of producers had high hopes for soybeans this year,” Sutton said. “But it was a challenging year for some.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Temperatures were above normal and no rainfall was reported. Winter grazing pastures were stressing from lack of moisture in some areas. Some producers will replant oats due to the lack of rain. Cattle remained in good condition without supplemental feeding and stock tank levels held steady. Many producers were making final cuttings of hay. Armyworms continued to be a concern. Most counties reported good soil moisture and overall rangeland and pasture conditions. Overall crop conditions were mostly fair.

ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions remained favorable for cotton farmers, with pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Farmers in one area began harvesting cotton, and the harvest was expected to soon be in full swing. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition. Some ranchers began moving cattle to ungrazed pastures. Producers expected plenty of grazing through the winter months after recent rains. Winter wheat and oats looked good, but a small number of acres were replanted due to insect pressure.  Livestock were also in good condition with only a small portion of supplemental feeding.

COASTAL BEND: Weather conditions were favorable with a few light showers reported in some areas. More rain will be needed to improve soil moisture levels for spring planting. Cotton harvests were completed and ginning will continue for several weeks. Armyworms were still present.  Pastures showed some color change due to drier conditions, but they were still in good shape with plenty of available forage. Calf marketing continued in spite of price declines. Cattle were in good shape. Pecan harvests continued with fair to good yields in irrigated orchards and hit and miss yields for natives.

EAST: Scattered rain fell across the region. Counties reported very dry soil. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were short to adequate. Cooler temperatures moved into the area. Winter forages looked good for those that received rain. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good. Grass in some areas was turning brown. Marion County producers were finishing up their last cutting of hay. Volunteer ryegrass started to emerge in Cherokee County. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Cattle prices continued to decline. Producers were selling spring calves. Fall calves were being born. Wild pigs were active in some parts of Gregg County. Upshur County continued predator and pest control.

SOUTH PLAINS: Temperatures in Bailey County reached 32 degrees. However, it was a light frost and the duration was not long enough to affect crops. Corn harvests continued and cotton harvest was beginning to get underway. Average to below-average yields and low leaf grades were reported. Winter wheat was planted behind harvested crops. Floyd County experienced warm, dry weather conditions, which assisted cotton harvest efficacy, so harvesting began to roll. Area fields were about 10 percent harvested. Lubbock County experienced warm, open weather that allowed harvest operations to move into full swing. Almost half of Lubbock County cotton fields received harvest aid applications. Field activities included cotton defoliation and harvesting of cotton and grain fields. Dry conditions were not encouraging for stocker operators as they need moisture for the wheat pasture to improve. Peanuts were still in fields. Some growers began digging their fields while many others waited. Some were still irrigating peanut fields.

PANHANDLE: Above-average temperatures continued for the district. Soil moisture was adequate. Deaf Smith County producers were wrapping up corn harvests with just a few late fields yet to be harvested. Hansford County reported 210-245 bushels of corn per acre. Producers worked on sunflowers with average yields reported so far. Grain sorghum was harvested, and sugarcane aphids were still causing problems in area fields. Warm temperatures let sugarcane aphids continue to populate and create massive amounts of honeydew on the sorghum plants. Wheat fields were coming along, and early plantings emerged. Heat and dry conditions stressed some wheat fields. Armyworms and wire worms caused problems in wheat fields. A local aerial applicator has already applied insecticide to more than 10,000 acres of wheat in an attempt to control armyworms. The cotton crop was coming along nicely, and the first application of harvest aids were applied to many acres. Cattle and pastures were in good condition. Peanut harvests were in full swing. Soybean harvests were coming to an end with most fields making 50-60 bushels per acre.  Milo harvests started. Recent hot weather and windy conditions dried things out. Cattle were put on irrigated winter-wheat. Ranchers continued weaning calves.

NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from adequate to short and were decreasing. A cool front brought a small amount of rain with cooler temperatures. The rain received was not enough to help dry soil conditions or decreasing pond levels. Bermudagrass pastures continued to decline due to shorter days, cooler nights and dry conditions. Stockpiled grass supplies were diminishing. Cotton harvests were in full swing. Some winter wheat was planted, but some producers were waiting due to the threat of armyworms. Weather fluctuations caused some stress on livestock, but overall they were in good condition. Feral hog activity increased.

FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the low 90s with lows in the 50s. No significant rain occurred. Rangeland grasses showed stress and were yellowing. Cotton harvests were in full swing. Producers began to strip irrigated acres. Cotton yields were better than expected so far. Wheat for grazing was planted and emerged. Fall armyworms continued to be a problem, and a large percentage of fields were treated. Pumpkins and peppers were harvested. Many producers continued fall cattle work. Weaning weights were very good on calves and bred cows and good on young and middle aged cows. Ranchers continued to ship spring calves. Supplemental feeding continued for livestock and wildlife.

WEST CENTRAL: Days were warm and nights were cool. Conditions were beginning to dry out. Cotton bolls were opening, and farmers began applying harvest aids.  Stock tanks were still full, and pastures remained green. Producers were busy planting wheat and oat fields. Armyworms were terrible this year, and farmers were fighting to control them. Cattle prices were not very encouraging, but the sheep and goat market seemed good.

SOUTHEAST: Conditions were dry and moisture was needed. A cold front hit Lee and Waller counties and scattered showers brought needed rain to Lee and Jefferson counties. Insurance claims on cotton resulted in some crop destruction. Final hay cuttings were put up. Ryegrass and other cool-season forages were planted and waiting on moisture. Late-planted cotton was all that remained in fields. Winter annual planting was at a standstill due to hot, dry conditions. Weather forecasts looked good. Plantings were expected to proceed. A few last fields were baled for hay and the standing hay crop was being grazed in many fields. Livestock were in good condition. Soil-moisture levels throughout the district ranged from adequate to short, with most ratings in the short range.

SOUTHWEST: Weather conditions remained dry and soil continued to dry out. Wheat preparations continued, and hay was still being made. Cooler temperatures slowed grass growth. Pastures and livestock were in good condition.

SOUTH: Good to fair weather conditions continued with the arrival of cooler temperatures and scattered light rain showers. Conditions were very dry in some areas. Soil moisture levels declined substantially in some areas. Rangelands and pastures remained mostly brown or were dormant. Some pastures remained in good grazing condition, but forage quality was declining. Some peanut fields were harvested while others remained under irrigation. Wheat and oat planting continued, but at a slow pace due to reports of armyworms in the area. Fall cattle roundups and weaning continued. Cattle body condition scores remained good. Wildlife populations remained healthy and stable. Dove season continued in the special white wing zone. A lot of white-winged doves, quail, turkey and deer were seen throughout the district. Row crop farmers were busy preparing fields for winter, with only a few producers intending on planting wheat. Local beef markets continued to experience increases in volume and a drop in prices, including 500-pound feeder steers averaging 94 cents per pound  down from $1.65 a pound at the start of the year. In Zavala County, dry conditions kept producers busy applying irrigation to cabbage, wheat, spinach, onions and some oat fields. Some cabbage harvesting was expected to begin soon in some areas, and spinach made good progress due to cooler temperatures. Pecan harvests began and should continue as weather permits. Hay baling continued on improved pastures in some areas. Fall planting on irrigated pastures continued.