MU crop conference offers soybean, corn growers info to deal with drought

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Soybean growers can learn how University of Missouri Extension research can help them with next year’s crops.

Many of the 29 sessions offered at this year’s MU Crop Management Conference center around soybean research, including one from MU Extension soybean specialist Bill Wiebold.

Wiebold tells the short- and long-term effects of drought on Missouri’s main grain crops. The event is Dec. 14-15 at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia.

Wiebold shares research on how drought affects soybean and corn. Like people, plants go into self-preservation mode when stressed, Wiebold says.

During drought, soybean reduce the number of seeds they produce and shed them to reduce “seed load.” By doing so, plants give the next generation of seeds a better chance to survive and grow.

Plants survive by reducing water loss and increasing water intake through various means. Roots send signals to leaves to alert them that they are under stress and not receiving enough water. They step into action.

During drought, soybean plants put their energies into survival instead of flowering and filling pods. Pod numbers and seed size reduce as a result.

Wiebold also talks about drought’s effect on corn. When water intake goes down, flowers and ears grow smaller. Fewer kernels are fertilized. Kernels abort and remaining kernels are smaller and weigh less. Silks grow differently and husks tighten.

Wiebold gives management tips for farmers to reduce yield loss during drought through variety selection and weed and pest control. He shows how no-till practices and cover crop residue reduce water runoff and increase water infiltration. He also gives tips on how to protect root health and maintain soil health.

Wiebold’s talk follows a historical look at 2017 weather from MU Extension climatologist Pat Guinan. He gives insight on how current weather patterns may affect soybean variety selection. He also explains how to use the drought monitor index.

Keynote speaker Kevin Bradley, an MU Extension weed scientist, gives updates on dicamba. He and his research team have studied dicamba-damaged crops in 2017. They also study off-target movement of herbicides. Bradley presents this research and that of other leading weed scientists from universities across the country.

Economist Ray Massey talks about crop and liability insurance as it relates to herbicide injury.

MU nematologist Melissa Mitchum gives an update on soybean cyst nematode resistance management.

Register through the MU Conference Office at or call 573-882-4349.

MO-AG holds its annual conference and trade show at the Expo Center at the same time. It is free to attendees of the Crop Management Conference.