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Soybean harvest gets off & running

Jeff Caldwell 09/26/2011 @ 3:43pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn farmers gained some ground over the last week in harvesting their crop and soybean harvest finally got off the ground in the 18 main bean-growing states, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report.

Monday's report shows 15% of the U.S. corn crop is out of the field, just shy of the normal pace (16% complete). Meanwhile, soybean harvest is 5% complete.

Though soybean harvest just got underway in the Corn Belt this last week, it's just over 3/4 done in Louisiana, USDA says, where the crop's met expectations so far, considering some of the weather extremes it faced during the growing season.

“Harvest has been fairly good,” says Ron Levy, soybean specialist with the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter. “We’ve had a good crop considering the conditions. Yields were slightly lower, but not bad.”

Harvest progress remains fairly varied. Doug Martin says he's on the downhill slide with corn harvest on his central Illinois farm. Yields are just as varied as progress, he says.

"Yields have still been variable, but where we did have some rain we had some really good corn. It is amazing the difference a one inch rain made on some of these farms that were lucky enough to get one in July," Martin says. "That one inch of rain probably made those farms another $300 per acre in gross revenue."

Martin and other Corn Belt farmers are waiting on things to dry down before they can start on soybeans. Luke Smith of Rochester, Indiana, said he tried combining one field late last week, though 17%-plus moisture levels have his soybean combine stalled.

Despite some fairly widespread moisture over the weekend in parts of the Midwest over the weekend, the outlook should help the soybean crop dry down in the next 2 weeks.

"Weather models are in strong agreement that an upper air ridge will dominate the central U.S. during the next 14 days and bring dry weather to the region. This should allow crops not recently impacted by freezing temperatures to reach full maturity," according to Allen Dutcher. "If this occurs, I would expect to see harvest activity across southern Nebraska to increase in intensity as the month draws to a close."

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