Heat pushes soybean harvest off to early start

Farm Forum

For many in this area, the main push for soybean harvest will come at the end of this week or beginning of next week.

John Horter of Andover was one of the few farmers in a combine last weekend. He said they just started harvesting in the soybean fields on Saturday.

Horter said the beans are pretty dry, running from 14 to 14 ½ percent moisture. With warm conditions Monday and Tuesday, he believes those levels should continue to drop.

“It’s a mixed bag, with about one-third of our beans hailed out earlier this year,” Horter said. “Another one third will run about average, and about one-third will probably be above average.”

Ryan Wagner of Roslyn posted on Twitter, “Heard my first ‘disappointed’ this morning regarding soybean yields. Otherwise it’s been quiet, and you know what that means.”

“Really, everyone is pretty satisfied so far,” Wagner said. He elaborated on his comment by noting the heat has pushed the beans, with harvest beginning about a week earlier than usual. In his area, a few farmers started last week, and a rain forecast for Wednesday got machines rolling on Monday and Tuesday.

He said some were even caught off guard, not realizing how dry the crop had become. In fact, Wagner said conditions were dry enough that the rain shouldn’t delay progress.

Wagner is looking for an above average crop. Yields so far have been in the upper 40s to 50 bushels per acre. He said some fields may tap 60 bushels per acre. With moisture levels running around 11 ½ percent, the beans should keep in the bin if need be.

Since their work is dependent on the weather, farmers are keeping tabs on the long-term forecasts.

“I think we will have a long fall with no frost or freeze in sight for at least a couple of weeks,” Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension climate field specialist in Aberdeen, said Monday. “The six- to 14-day forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center are still showing temperatures likely above average. Around Oct. 1 is this area’s average date where temperatures hit 28 degrees Fahrenheit for the first freeze date. We just passed the average 32 degrees Fahrenheit freeze date, based on the averages from the past 30 years.”

“I would say the dry/warm temperatures have accelerated dying of soybeans — and have virtually stopped any further disease pressure in that crop which is probably also good,” Edwards said. “I certainly think the dry and warm weather the last 30 days has helped push corn to maturity. The question will be if those conditions contribute to any loss of yield. Record yields are predicted statewide.”

Some producers are already taking out high-moisture corn that will be used for livestock feed.

Edwards said chances of rain are increasing into early to mid October.

“This could mean delays in corn harvest or ‘high moisture’ grain as we get further into October if we don’t get enough time for crops to dry down in the field,” Edwards said. “It’s still too early to tell for sure, but could be one thing to keep in mind.”

She said the area is on the dry side right now for this time of year, with less than 25 percent of the average moisture received for the last 30 days. Virtually nowhere in northeastern South Dakota (north of I-90, east of the River) is more than 50 percent of average. She said that receiving some rain at this point would be good for winter wheat.

Jay Kokes of Delmont sent his first load of soybeans to Dakota Plains Ag Center at Parkston on Monday afternoon. Moisture readings from the combine showed the grain ranged from 11 to 12 percent moisture. The field he was on had also been hit by hail. He said adjusters said that it showed 40 percent damage. What was left was running about 35 to 40 bushels per acre.

“Since there was damage, we wanted to get this field out,” Kokes said. “The other fields look a lot better. I’m seeing a couple of other guys out, but there’s still a lot of green out there. This was one of the first fields I planted. For some it will be a good two weeks before they’re running.”

No matter when combines start rolling, price will be a big issue as far as income meeting expenses for the year. According to the USDA, the U.S. season-average price forecast for soybeans in 2015/2016 was projected at $8.40 to $9.90 per bushel.

With those prices, farmers will have to decide whether to store or sell the crop.

“There is not a lot of carry in the market which means there is not a huge incentive to store the crop,” Wagner said. “Some plan to store their grain, hoping for a rally in the market. Others will want to keep their bin space for corn. Some guys are doing both.”

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