August rains bring great soybean yields for producers

Farm Forum

A cool patch of weather at the first part of September set crops back about a week in their maturity for most of the state. In some areas, combines have started to roll across soybean acres, scooping up the grain as the 2014 harvest continues.

Travis Hart was pleased to learn the field they started combining on Monday measured 12.8 percent moisture when it was sampled at the Frederick Farmers Elevator. He figured the field, southwest of Frederick, was yielding more than 50 bushels per acre.

With rain forecast Tuesday, the Harts ran hard Monday, with Justin Hart in the combine, Travis driving the semi to the elevator and dad Kerry Hart running the grain cart.

Travis said frost was really spotty a couple of weeks ago, but it helped dry down the crop. Soybean leaves dropped in a few days.

Weather wise

Showers on Tuesday slowed down plans for combines whirling through fields. Laura Edwards, climate field specialist at the Aberdeen Regional Extension Center, said that even though temperatures will move cooler, there still should not be a hard freeze this week. After being wet for a couple of days, temperatures and conditions should be seasonal.

Temperatures and light winds last week helped with the dry down process.

Combines roll

Near Andover, John Horter said their crew has been combining beans for a little more than a week. Yields have been 45 to 55 bushels per acre with the beans pretty dry, most days at 12 to 13 percent moisture.

“It’s surprising that the plants have been fairly green, but the beans are dry,” Horter said. “Conditions were really ideal, except for a little drizzle.”

He figures they are about 30 percent done with the bean harvest. He knows many farmers have started or are checking out moisture levels, itching to get this year’s harvest complete.

Horter said with the low prices, it’s hard to know what to do with beans. They have hauled some to elevators. However, “It’s always nice to have some in the bin,” he said.

Better than expected

Craig Haugaard at North Central Farmers Cooperative in Ipswich said more than a million bushels of soybeans had come into the cooperative’s system as of Tuesday morning. They estimate they will handle about 17 million bushels of beans by the end of harvest.

“It’s a great looking crop,” Haugaard said. “We’re sitting pretty good now to take beans. There is a train scheduled to come this week, so we’ll get a bunch moved out.”

Producers call, hoping for better prices, but Haugaard isn’t able to give them much hope in relation to marketing. Many are seeing really good yields; test weight has been good. Yields are running from 45 to 55 bushels per acre. One producer said he had 70 bushels per acre.

“With prices where they are, farmers need good yields to make up for the shortfall,” he said. Beans that have been delivered so far are going to fill contracts. Some are putting their crop in condo storage, and others are using delayed pricing.

As rain fell Tuesday, Haugaard said, “We’re hoping for a nice, fast harvest. We don’t want it to string out like the wheat harvest did.”

“It’s busy, that’s as simple as it gets when it’s harvest time,” Tom Bright, Wheat Growers grain marketing specialist, said. “We’ve already had some very good harvest runs. Some tried to start combining 10 days ago, but they really got going solid last Thursday and Friday. The rain on Tuesday will slow things down a bit.”

Bright said they’ve been planning for the harvest crunch since January. Elevators in the system are at their lowest level in quite some time in anticipation for the grain flow. Wheat Growers has an aggressive shipping schedule, and there are trains that need to be loaded. It’s time to put the grain on the steel wheels.

“The market has showed us that it wants our soybeans and not our corn,” Bright said. Wheat Growers has been reducing inventory. He said, “We loaded a lot of trains through the month of September.”

Without fail, producers are very happy with yields, Bright said. Even in areas that were dry, producers still got yields better than expected. The August rains did a lot of magic, which is good for growers.

Bright figures less than one-tenth of the crop has been harvested. Quality has been good, as the beans have not gotten real dry, which reduces breakage and shrink. Many have delivered on contracts. Farmers have on-site storage, but with the big crop, some of the grain will need to be sold. And with the price of corn, it makes more sense to sell excess beans.

Corn comes later

Those who planted 100-day corn are betting on getting a late frost, Edwards said. If the seed went in the ground in early to mid-May, it should be OK. If it was 95-day corn and planted before May 10, then it will be close to black layer and maturity soon.

The two-week forecast is for dry temperatures and a bit warmer. At this time of the year, weather fluctuates a great deal as the season changes. The forecast doesn’t show a lot of moisture in the next few weeks.

That sounds like news that farmers want to hear.