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Finally. Harvest back on track

By Staff | Nov 13, 2009

Jim Dougherty, and his son, Jason Douigherty, finished their soybean harvest over the weekend at their farm northwest of Lake City. Farmers in the area reported soybean yields ranging from zero to 35 bushels per acre, due to the hailstorm that ravaged the crop on Aug. 9.

From bumper corn crops in northwest Iowa and bin-busting soybean crops in southwest Iowa to below-average yields in other areas, variability is the key word to describe the 2009 harvest throughout much of Iowa.

The only constant appears to be the fast dry down of the grain in early November and the trend toward lighter test weights. A roundup of harvest updates throughout the Farm News coverage area includes:

  • Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co., in Arcadia: By Monday, farmers in the Arcadia and Westside areas were close to 97 percent done with the soybean harvest, while farmers in the Schleswig and Denison areas were 80 to 87 percent done with beans.

Moisture on soybeans was 11 to 12 percent, and the quality has been ideal, said Darrell Henkenius, operations manager, who noted that soybean yields have ranged from the mid 50s to the mid 60s. Some yields north of Arcadia were as high as 66 bushels per acre.

”On corn we’re close to 40 percent done with harvest, so we’ve got a long ways to go,” he added. On Monday, corn coming out of the field had moisture levels of 17 to 26 percent, with an average of 22 percent. Some corn yields have been hitting 200 bushels per acre.

Test weights have improved, but they’ve been very light this year, said Henkenius, who estimated the average at 54 to 54.5 pounds.

  • First Cooperative Association, in Cherokee: The soybean harvest is nearly wrapped up, but the corn harvest is only one-third complete, said Randy Dunn, grain merchandiser. Soybean yields have ranged in the mid 50s, and soybean moisture levels have been below 13 percent. On corn, there have been a lot of 200-plus-bushel corn yields, with some higher than 220 bushels per acre. ”However, this is some of the poorest quality grain we’ve seen since 1993,” said Dunn, who noted that the crop suffered from this summer’s lack of sufficient heat units. Some of the corn contains mold, and test weights are low, running around 54 pounds per bushel.

A grain probe prepares to test a straight truck's load Tuesday at the Farmers Cooperative Co. elevator in Afton, as fair weather allowed harvest activity to restart across the state.

”Cracked and broken kernels are also more of an issue this year, since low test weights make the grain softer,” said Dunn, who added that extremely tight propane supplies are creating challenges with grain drying this fall.

  • Gold-Eagle Cooperative, in Goldfield: Farmers in the area are basically finished with the soybean harvest, while the corn harvest is about 65 percent complete. ”We’ve finally been blessed to get our October weather in November,” said Duane Madoerin, grain merchandising manager. Hail was not a problem in the area this summer, and yields have been excellent, he added.

Soybeans have ranged from 55 to 63 bushels per acre. Farmers have reported many 200-plus bushel yields, with some corn-following-soybean fields hitting 220 to 230 bushels per acre. Some growers with corn-on-corn acres, however, have reported yields that are 40 to 50 bushels less than the corn/soybean rotation acres.

While the corn’s moisture content was terrible when the harvest started, it has definitely improved, said Madoerin, who noted that it was running 18 percent to 22 percent during the week of Nov. 9.

Test weights on corn have been a little lighter than normal, with an average of 54.5 pounds. When test weights are lower and the grain is wetter, the storability of the grain is lower, Madoerin said. ”You can’t treat this crop like you normally would.

”The corn has a tendency to break up, and it tends to get more fines. Since this corn will not store as well, you’ll really need to keep an eye on it.”

  • MaxYield Cooperative, in West Bend: Yields are all over the place in MaxYield’s trade territory, according to Harry Bormann, grain team leader. The soybean harvest is nearly complete, with yields averaging 50 bushels per acre. The corn harvest is about 55 percent complete, with yields averaging 180 bushels per acre. Corn-on-corn acres have tended to have lower yields than those from corn-on-soybean acres.

”While there has been a lot of talk about mold, we haven’t seen a lot of mold problems,” Bormann said.

Test weights have been a little low, dropping below 54 pounds in MaxYield’s eastern trade territory and ranging slightly above 54 pounds in the co-op’s central and western regions. Moisture levels on corn have dropped dramatically in recent days, falling from 23 percent to less than 20 percent.

”The drier we can get the grain coming out of the field, the better the grain quality will be,” Bormann added.

  • Heart of Iowa Cooperative, in Roland: Farmers in the area haven’t been talking much about their yields this fall, said Mark Lettow, location manager at the co-op’s S-14 office. Nearly 95 percent of the soybean harvest is complete and 55 percent of the corn harvest is in storage. He estimated that soybean yields have ranged from 48 to 53 bushels per acre, while corn has been averaging 180 bushels per acre. Test weights on corn have been a little lighter than normal, falling in the 53- to 54-pound range.

While moisture in some corn is still up around 25 percent, the levels have been coming down. Much of the grain is running 19 to 21 percent, with the lowest hitting 17 percent. ”Although it’s a challenge, we’re working hard to keep the grain flowing so we can keep taking grain every day,” Lettow said.

  • Hull Cooperative Association, in Hull: While 100 percent of the soybean harvest is done, only 40 percent of the corn harvest is complete. Many farmers have reported record yields, said Ed Westra, general manager. Corn has ranged from 215 to 258 bushels per acre, while soybeans have ranged 57 to 62 bushels per acre.

”One farmer said he got 40 bushels better on corn than he ever has,” said Westra, who noted that yields on the lighter soils did especially well this year.

The grain quality has been good, added Westra, who noted that test weights on corn averaged 53.5 pounds, while moisture levels dropped to 21.5 to 23 percent by Nov. 10.

  • Farmers Cooperative Company, in Afton. The soybean harvest is wrapping up, and it has been a big bean year in southern Iowa, said Jim Schendt, general manager of Farmers Cooperative Company.

The beans are heavy, with test weights of 57 to 58 pounds, and yields have ranged from 50 to 70 bushels per acre. The last year that a bean harvest was this good was in 2007, said Schendt, who added that corn yields in the area have been much more variable.

Although 80 percent of the corn crop still needs to be harvested, the corn has been drying down well. During the last week in October, moisture levels were still at 25 to 27 percent, but they had dropped closer to 20 percent by the second week in November. On Tuesday, some of the corn being delivered to Afton was 16.9 percent right off the combine.

  • Farmers Cooperative, in Lake City: The bean harvest is done, and about two-thirds of the corn has been harvested, said Dan Bellinghausen, location manager, who noted that some farmers in area were hit hard by hail this summer.

On the acres that didn’t sustain hail damage, corn yields have ranged from 150 to 220 bushels per acre and beans ranged from 45 to 66. On hail acres, bean yields were as low as zero and up to 22 bushels per acre. In one cornfield that was hit by hail, yields ranged from 40 to 140 bushels per acre, depending on the location in the field.

Test weights on corn were lighter this year, with weights ranging from 50 to 58, with an average of 54. The moisture content of the corn dropped dramatically over the first weekend in November, and reached an average of 21.2 percent by Nov. 10.

As farmers wait for the remaining corn to continue to dry down, many are applying anhydrous in the meantime, Bellinghausen said.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at “mailto:yettergirl@yahoo.com”>yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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