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The soybean crop in our area is tall and full of pods. Statewide the weekly USDA NASS soybean progress report is showing one of the best looking crops in the past 20 years with 79% of the Illinois' soybean crop in the Good or Excellent category. (see photo 1) These great growing conditions are giving us the potential for high yielding soybeans, but another problem is showing up - lodging.

The soybean plants in these lodged fields are over 4 feet tall and loaded with many pods causing these plants to fall over in some instances. This morning, I was in a field of 4 foot tall plants (R6 stage), but in large areas the tops of the plants were only 18 inches off the ground. These plants were basically lying one on top of the other. (See photo 2)

What kind of yield losses can we expect from lodged soybeans? Research dating back to the 1980's shows that we can expect harvest losses ranging 3% to 10%. In addition, there are physiological losses, which are greatest near the R5 reproductive stage (Beginning Seed) where losses can range up to 30%. (Noor, R.B.M and C.E. Caviness, 1980: Influence of Induced Lodging on Pod Distribution and Seed Yield in Soybeans. Agron. J. 72, 904-906.)

Lodged soybean fields need to harvested in a very timely manner to reduce yield losses and to prevent loss of seed quality.