In the world of ag market truisms, one of the most widely-quoted is this: Soybeans do not like wet feet. While some other sayings may have more to do with rhyme than reason, the soybean proverb has a solid botanical focus. Root rot and lack of nitrogen fixation can cause poor plant development and plant death after only a few days. The issue, of course, is that many soybean fields in the southern and eastern Midwest have been in this “water, water everywhere” calamity for more than two weeks.
The wet stress is taking its toll. The end-of-June DTN National Crop Condition Index for soybeans, at 154 points, is a notable 22 points below the end of June number in 2014. The most stressful reports were in states where flooding or very-wet fields remain a problem: Indiana, with 19% of its soybean acreage rated poor to very poor; Illinois, with 15% of soybeans rated poor to very poor; Missouri 17% poor to very poor, and Ohio with 16% rated poor to very poor. The historic aspect of rain in the past 30 days cannot be over stated. Illinois, for example, had its wettest June in 120 years of recordkeeping, dating back to 1895.
The problems are not just with developing soybeans, either. Total U.S. soybean planting is reported very close to average at 94% complete (average is 97%); however, Missouri is more than one-third behind average, with 38% of its intended soybean acreage still unplanted as of Sunday, June 28.
And, weather patterns remain biased toward generally cool and wet conditions during the first half of July. “More rain has been added to the forecast for southern portions of the eastern Midwest,” said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino. “Wet weather in the southern and eastern Midwest will disrupt any remaining soybean planting … some soybean acreage will likely not get planted.”
The prospect of both unplanted acreage and deterioration of crops already in the ground but now flooded or, later, to be encased in mud after the high water recedes, is helping cast a bullish posture for soybeans this midsummer, according to DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.
“With more rain in the forecast and Missouri only 62% planted, it is reasonable for prices to be concerned about lower production estimates ahead and that is reinforcing this new uptrend in soybeans,” Hultman said.
A USDA announcement of plans to re-survey planted acreage, due in part to wet-weather issues for soybean planting in Kansas and Missouri, bolsters Hultman’s viewpoint. The revised acreage total is scheduled to be published on the Aug. 12 NASS report.