You Can Participate In Soybean Pod Count Survey

You Can Participate In Soybean Pod Count Survey

Iowa farmers urged to take part in statewide survey, counting pods to see how drought has affected their soybean yield potential this year.

How are your soybeans doing this year? Are you wondering how the drought in 2012 has affected your soybean yield potential? You need to participate in a pod counting survey that will be conducted by farmers beginning the week of August 6 across Iowa.

On-Farm Network is having growers across Iowa report pod counts and will use that information to compare soybean crop conditions, to get a better idea of how drought has affected yields across the state this summer.

The Iowa Soybean Association's On-Farm Network began a soybean yield project last year, seeking to determine the role that different factors play in final yield. "In the process, we looked at plant population, plant height, nodes per plant, pods per node, number of branches with pods, beans per pod, bean weight, etc.," says Mick Lane, communications director for the network. "When it came down to it, the single most important factor in yield last year was the number of beans per plant, which was very closely related to the number of pods per plant."

He adds, "We hope to be able to take the same measurements and counts from a number of soybean fields just prior to harvest this year. However in the meantime, since pod-set is usually complete around mid-August, if you'd like to get a rough estimate of how your beans are doing, we'd suggest walking out into the field sometime in the next week and counting pods in two different spots in the field."

How to conduct pod counts in your bean field to get an idea of potential yield
Tracy Blackmer, director of research for the On-Farm Network, explains how to do this. First, look for an area you'd consider "typical" for the field. For the second count, find what you think is the best spot in the field. "And, since we all want to know how the neighbors' crops are doing, we'd invite you to participate in an information exchange, facilitated through the On-Farm Network." Here's how it will work:


• Collect data from your soybean field(s) during the Week of August 5 through 10.

• For each field, select two areas (typical and best) and record the following for each area:

1) Plants per 10 ft. of row (you'll need a measuring tape for this.)

2) The total number of pods on 10 consecutive plants in the area you measured.

To better interpret and present the results, Blackmer would also like you to send in the following information: your name, your county, email address (so the On-Farm Network can send you a report when they've processed all the information), soybean variety, row width, normal soybean yield in that field (not what you expect now).

Survey organizers want you to encourage your neighbors to participate too

Once you've got your information together, email it to [email protected]. "If you prefer to phone it in, we will have people on hand to take your call on Thursday and Friday (August 9 and 10)," says Lane. "Please call 800-383-1423 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and say you're calling in for the 'soybean pod count project.' The person answering the phone will take down your information, or transfer you immediately to someone who can."


Blackmer and Lane say you should "encourage your neighbors to participate, too. "The more information we get from an area, the better the comparisons will be," says Lane. "As with all our programs, your data is confidential and will not be released in a way that can be used to identify any individual grower."

Lane says the On-Farm Network staff at ISA headquarters in Ankeny will have the results of this survey finalized by Friday August 17. On that day, they will:

• Email a summary of the results to each participant who provided an email address

• Post a general overview of the results on the website (

• Host a free webinar to go over the results with participants and others. Time and log-in information will be emailed to participants. Others interested in tuning in should request webinar log-in information by emailing [email protected].

Soybean plants in Iowa this summer have flowers drying up without forming pods
"We've been watching soybean plants in Iowa since flowering began and have noticed what seems to be a higher number of flowers than normal drying up without forming pods," says Lane. "We know that heat and dry weather affect soybean pollination. But what affect will it have on the harvested crop this year?"

Predicting soybean yield is more difficult than predicting corn yield. USDA soybean crop projections are general in nature, and tend to have a wider margin of error than for most other reported crops. Recent rains, along with the adaptability of the soybean plant, could allow for some yield compensation, but knowing the number of pods on a plant is one of the main keys to predicting yield.

The idea of having growers report pod counts across Iowa and using that information to compare soybean crop conditions around the state came up last week. The ISA On-Farm Network team then worked out the details for this pod count survey project.

Results will be reported to participants, and webinar will be presented August 17
"Iowa farmers and others will be interested in what we learn from this project," says Lane. "Hopefully, we'll have good participation by farmers around the state and the results of this survey will be more reflective of the current weather situation and yield prospects for soybeans this year."

He adds, "Remember, this survey starts the week of August 6—that's when you need to get into your fields and count soybean pods. Also, mark your calendar for August 17. We will email the results to all of the participants on August 17, and also on that day we will broadcast the webinar presentation of the results."
TAGS: Soybean USDA
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