Soybeans threatened by moderate drought, heat

Soybeans are threatened by moderate drought conditions in most of northern Missouri.

Summer 2013 was certainly more mild than 2012, but many farmers across mid-Missouri have seen completely different sides of Mother Nature this year.

The summer started with heavy rain and severe weather at the end of May heading into the first day of June, with less active weather until the first full week of August.

That week brought over a foot of rain in some places, causing flash floods that damaged homes, swept away roads, and even washed away crops.

KRCG 13 met two farmers that lost their crops to flooding in the Gasconade River bottom in early August.

Tuesday, KRCG 13 talked to two farmers in Audrain County dealing with the opposite problem, drought.

Almost the entire northern half of Missouri is under abnormally dry to severe drought conditions.

Ron Flatt and his son Brian farm corn, wheat, and soybeans in Audrain, Boone, and Monroe counties.

They said they haven't seen measurable rain for at least three weeks, and the majority of summer rains came from isolated thunderstorms that were hit or miss at their fields.

The dry conditions coupled with last week's intense heat didn't help relieve stress on their soybean plants.

"What little moisture we have there, there's that much more evaporation, and the heat stress on the plants just takes that moisture away. Any time we take moisture away when they're stressed like this...that really affects the bean yields," said Ron Flatt.

Dry, hot conditions can cause plants to start releasing beans from their pods, and can even stunt the growth of a bean.

"Getting into dry conditions like we have now and the week we had last week approaching 100 degree temperatures, it doesn't take very long. Within a matter of days it can abort pods," said Brian Flatt.

While the dry conditions may cut some of their annual yield, the Flatts said their short season crop will have a better yield this year since it was planted earlier in May when the soil contained more moisture.

According to the Missouri Soybean Association, soybeans are the leading cash crop in the state with 5.4 million acres, and they brought in $4.5 billion over the last two years before any processing of the bean.

The Flatts are hoping for either some rainfall soon, or a late frost near the end of October.