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Soybean harvest underway in Ont.

Soybean harvest underway in Ont.

Some producers are expecting big yields from this year’s crop

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

Combines are rolling in soybean fields, with many farmers glad to be getting beans off a little early, compared to the wet fall of 2019.

“The warm, dry weather has certainly moved things on rapidly in” some parts of the province, Horst Bohner told He’s the soybean specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and is based in Stratford. “Compared to a late planting or a wet fall, this is beautiful. To be able to get into your soybeans in September is terrific news for most people.”

Deciding when to harvest soybeans is not too complicated, he said. “You basically wait for the soybeans to be mature and dried down, and then you drive if the weather is good. … We don’t typically wait around for something else to trigger harvest; when you’re ready, you get out there and go.”

Harvesting too early can result in green beans in your sample, however, so it’s best to let the field dry out.

Some growers may also choose to apply a pre-harvest herbicide, once the soybean crop reaches maturity and seeds have separated from the pods, to speed up harvest time.

A relatively small percentage of farmers in Ontario use a pre-harvest application. Farmers typically choose to spray “fields that have a lot of weed escapes,” Bohner explained. “If you can dry those weeds down, everything goes through the combine that much more efficiently, and it also starts the field clean for the next crop, for winter wheat.”

If a farmer is planting a three-crop rotation in the field, winter wheat is often seeded immediately after soybean harvest, he added. A field clear of weeds can help with the establishment of the next crop.

Soybean yields this year will vary by region, Bohner said. Many producers in southwestern and northern Ontario have high expectations, whereas parts of eastern Ontario experienced severe drought that may have caused yield reductions. 

“I think, on average, it will be a really good crop,” he said. “Some of the yield estimates from the end of August and the first part of September thought it might even be a record crop. What I’ve seen so far and what I’ve harvested and (from) people I’ve talked to, it seems like it’s an above-average crop.”

However, “it’s too early to know where we’ll end up,” he added. “If you got moisture in August, you’ve got a really nice-looking crop.”

The ag community in Ontario still has a long harvest season ahead, “especially in the big soybean-growing areas like Lambton and Kent. … Those growers make up a lot of the overall crop and they have not been at it yet in a big way,” said Bohner. “It’s early days yet.”

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