Harvest Finally Progressing in Late October

October 29, 2018


The 2018 Fall harvest season has been progressing at a fairly-nice pace during the last half of October in most areas of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, after starting later than normal across the region. The first half of October featured above normal rainfall, as well as some wet snow in some areas, and below normal temperatures, which brought harvest progress to a halt. Some portions of Southern Minnesota and adjoining areas of Iowa and Wisconsin also received a significant amount of rainfall in late September, which resulted in very saturated field conditions.

As of October 29, it is estimated that between 75-95 percent of the soybeans, as well as 35-65 percent of the corn, depending where your location is across Southern Minnesota, has been harvested. Harvest progress has been somewhat slower in Southeast Minnesota, which was impacted by higher rainfall amounts in late September and early October, as well as having crops that were a bit later maturing. The first killing frost did not occur until early October in most of the region, which allowed corn and soybeans to reach full maturity; however, a few later planted soybeans and crops that were replanted following drown-out damage in June were an exception.

Overall, the reported soybean yields across Southern Minnesota have been highly variable, depending on drown-out or storm damage, as well as areas with continual excessive moisture during the growing season. It has not been unusual to hear of yield monitor and weigh wagon yields in some portions of the region that were above 60 bushels per acre; however, once whole field yields were calculated, dividing the total bushels harvested by the total acres planted, the soybean yields tend to drop off.

The 2018 “whole field” soybean yields for most farmers in Southern Minnesota, adjusting for drown-out damage, have been 10-20 percent below their 5-year (2013-17) average soybean yields, which are typically between 50 to 60 bushels per acre. There have been a few exceptional fields, which avoided significant drown-out damage, that reached or exceeded the 5-year average yields. Yields of 30-40 bushels per acre have occurred in areas that were hard hit by the adverse weather conditions in 2018.

2018 corn yields across the region have also been highly variable, depending on planting date, the excessive rainfall during the growing season, and impacts from late season storms. There have been very few “whole field” yield reports of 200 bushels per acre or higher in South Central and Southwest Minnesota. “Whole field” corn yield figures of 150-180 bushels per acre are much more common in most of the region. In areas that were more severely impacted by the adverse weather situations, corn yields drop off to the 125-150 bushel per acre range, or even lower. Farmers in some portions of the region are reporting their poorest corn yields since the disaster year of 1993.

There will likely continue to be a lot of variation in the 2018 corn yields as harvest winds down across the region. Most farm operators in the region target 180-200 bushels per acre as a budgeting goal at the start of the growing season. The very low corn yields in 2018 are likely to have significant financial impact for many farm operators heading into the 2019 crop year.

Other areas of Minnesota and the United States are seeing much better corn and soybean yield results than are occurring in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. Many portions of West Central and Northwest Minnesota, as well as parts of Central and Eastern Iowa and Southeastern Minnesota, have reported good-to-excellent corn and soybean yields. Many areas of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska are reporting record or near-record corn and soybean yields.

In September, USDA projected the national average yields at 181.3 bushels per acre for corn and 52.8 bushels per acre for soybeans. USDA estimated Minnesota’s statewide average corn yield at 191 bushels per acre, and the statewide average soybean yield at 50 bushels per acre. Based on the early farm-level corn and soybean yield reports from many portions of Southern Minnesota, it may be difficult to achieve those USDA 2018 projected yield levels for Minnesota.

One piece of good news for producers regarding the 2018 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 18-23 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 23-27 percent moisture, or higher.


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

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

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


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