Soybean Pod Splitting Reported
Posted: September 11, 2012
These were not fully mature soybeans in which the splitting or sprouting occurred because of a prolonged wet period following initial dry-down. Although this was new to me, I found some information that shows that it is not a phenomenon unheard of. The good news for the farmer is that it was, in all likelihood, nothing that he did wrong and is most likely related to the growing conditions in the area.
When conditions are dry early in the season when the soybean plant is determining how many and how large to make pods, it can only go by the growing conditions it has had up to that point. So it probably responds to those conditions by making smaller (and possibly more) pods. It does not know what the weather is going to be during pod fill. In our area, we did have some dry periods earlier in the season, followed by some good rains later. So during the pod filling stage, the soybean seeds began to fill too fast for the pod’s capacity, which lead to the splitting. In this particular case, the farmer made the observation that it was worst in his double crop beans after barley. As they say, timing is everything. I was more surprised that with the (physiological) maturity of the beans had been reached to the point that it enabled them to sprout.
The bad news is that there isn’t much if anything that can be done about it. Past experience suggests that the damage is probably five percent or less. Following is an excerpt from an article by Dr.David Holshouser, Extension Agronomist at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, commenting on the seed damage and loss he has observed in his area in the past:
“At the worst, there could be some lower test weight and seed could contain more foreign material (from the dried up sprouts). However, the light seed will likely be blown out the back of the combine. If you do observe the problem and it is severe, I suggest that the air on the combine be adjusted to remove those light, sprouted seed at harvest.”