Fall Harvest Season Behind Normal

October 30, 2017


The Fall harvest season started later than normal in most areas of the Upper Midwest in 2017, and has incurred further delays due to wetter than normal weather during October in many areas. Harvest progress picked up in some areas of the region during the latter portions of the month, but remains well behind average progress. The first three weeks October did feature above normal temperatures, which aided in the field dry-down of the corn and soybeans. Some portions of the Midwest received significant rainfall the first half of October, as well as additional rain or snow during the last week of the month, which has greatly delayed harvest progress in many areas.

As of October 23, the weekly USDA Crop Progress Report listed 83 percent of the soybeans harvested in Minnesota, compared to 5-year average of 93 percent harvested by that date, and 94 percent harvested in 2016. Iowa reported 61 percent of the soybeans harvested on October 23, compared to an average of 81 percent harvested by that date. The October 23 soybean harvest rate in both Minnesota and Iowa nearly doubled from the preceding week. Nationwide, 70 percent of the soybeans were harvested by October 23, which is just below the 5-year average of 73 percent harvested by that date.

According to the October 23 Crop Report, only 14 percent of Minnesota’s corn crop had been harvested, compared to a 5-year average of 55 percent by that date, and 52 percent harvested in 2016. Iowa had only 23 percent of the corn crop harvested by Oct. 23, compared to an average of 55 percent by that date. Some progress has been made in corn harvest in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa during the final week of October. Nationwide, 38 percent of the corn crop had been harvested by October 23, compared to an average of 59 percent typically harvested by that date.

As usual, soybean yields have been highly variable across southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. Reported whole-field soybean yields of 50-60 bushels per acre have been quite common in many areas of South Central and Southwest Minnesota, with a few yields exceeding those levels. There were some reduced yields in areas that were impacted by severe storms during the 2017 growing season, as well as in fields that were severely impacted by white mold and other soybean diseases. The 2017 soybean yields in many areas have not reached the record soybean yield levels that numerous farm operators experienced in 2016; however, 2017 yields have exceeded the expectations of most producers, given the highly variable growing season in 2017.

Early reports of 2017 corn yields in Southern Minnesota have been a pleasant surprise in many areas. There has been some variability in the corn yields, depending on planting date, damage from severe storms, and late season diseases. There have been numerous “whole field” yield reports of over 200 bushels per acre in several portions South Central and Southwest Minnesota, with slightly lower yields being reported in areas that experienced weather problems during the 2017 growing season. There is the potential for increased field and harvest loss in the corn, as we get later into harvest season.

One piece of good news for all producers regarding the 2017 corn harvest has been the harvest moisture of the corn coming out of the field. Most of the corn being harvested in South Central Minnesota in the past week has been at 18-24 percent moisture, meaning a reduced amount of additional drying is required before the corn is placed in on-farm bins for storage. Corn should be dried to about 15-16 percent moisture before going into the grain bin for safe storage until next Spring or Summer. In early October, much of the corn was still at 25-30 percent moisture, or higher. As we head into November, the field moisture content of the corn is not likely to drop as significantly.

Due to the higher than expected corn yields and more carryover “old crop” corn than normal, some producers are running into a shortage of corn storage space. According to University research, corn that is at a moisture content of 22 percent, and a grain temperature of 50 degrees F., can be stored in temporary flat storage for approximately 30 days without damage, provided there is an aeration system in place to move air through the corn. At a grain temperature of 40 degrees, the allowable storage time increases to approximately 60 days at 22 percent grain moisture content, and to about 140 days at 19 percent moisture. However, the allowable storage time drops to only 12 days at a corn moisture content of 26 percent moisture and a grain temperature of 50 degrees, and to 35 days at a temperature of 40 degrees. The allowable safe storage time is much shorter if no aeration is available. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a very good information sheet on grain drying and storage available at: http://blog-crop-news.extension.umn.edu/2017/10/corn-harvest-drying-storage-challenging.html


Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and

Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone — (507) 381-7960);

E-mail — kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com)


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