Fall Harvest Season Behind Normal

The 2019 harvest season started later than normal in most areas of the Upper Midwest 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 week of October 14-20; however, harvest remains well behind average in most areas. Some portions of the Midwest received significant rainfall the first half of October, as well as additional rain early this week, which has further delayed harvest progress in the region. In addition, heavy snowfall earlier in October in portions of North and South Dakota, as well as Northwest Minnesota, have added to the 2019 harvest challenges.

As of October 15, the weekly USDA Crop Progress Report listed only 19 percent of the soybeans harvested in Minnesota, compared to 5-year average of 62 percent harvested by that date. Iowa reported only 17 percent of the soybeans harvested by October 15, compared to an average of 43 percent harvested by that date. North and South Dakota were at 16 percent and 13 percent of the soybeans harvested by October 15. Nationwide, 26 percent of the soybeans were harvested by October 14, which is well below the 5-year average of 49 percent harvested by that date. As mentioned, there was some significant advancement in the soybean harvest in many areas during this past week.

According to the October 15 Crop Report, only 5 percent of Minnesota’s 2019 corn crop had been harvested, compared to a 5-year average of 19 percent by that date. Iowa had only 7 percent of the corn crop harvested by Oct. 15, South Dakota was at 3 percent harvested, and North Dakota had only 1 percent of the corn harvested. Nationwide, 22 percent of the corn crop had been harvested by October 15, compared to an average of 36 percent typically harvested by that date.

Another concern in some portions of Minnesota and Northern Iowa, as well as in North and South Dakota, is the fact that some corn was not mature when the first frost occurred. Many parts of this region received the first killing frost during the week of October 7-13. While this is slightly later than the normal first-frost date in many locations, the freeze still came too early for large number of corn acres in the Upper Midwest that were planted in late May and early June.

The USDA Report on October 15 listed the following percentages for corn that had reached maturity: Minnesota at 66 percent, Iowa at 72 percent, South Dakota at 53 percent, and North Dakota at 42 percent. This means that potentially nearly one-third of Minnesota’s corn crop and near half of North and South Dakota’s corn crops had not yet reached maturity when the first killing frost occurred. When a killing frost occurs before the corn is mature it can reduce yield, result in lighter test weights, and slow the field dry-down of the corn.

Early reports of 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 Minnesota, with a few yields exceeding those levels. There were some reduced yields in areas that were impacted by late planting and excessive rainfall during the 2019 growing season. Areas that are dealing with harvest challenges due to excessive rainfall and the early mid-October snowstorm are also likely to have some yield reductions. The 2019 soybean yields in most areas of the Upper Midwest will likely be average or below, compared to normal soybean yield levels, and well below the record soybean yields that some farm operators have experienced in recent years.

Due to limited corn harvest progress in most areas, it is a bit early to project yield trends for corn in the region. It is expected that corn yields across the Upper Midwest will be highly variable, just as the soybeans have been. In many areas, the 2019 corn crop has been challenged the entire growing season by late planting, severe storms, late maturity, and finally by harvest challenges. It appears that the region is going to have a very long and tenuous corn harvest season for corn this Fall.

Producers are hoping that the harvest moisture of the corn coming out of the field starts to decline; however, this could be a challenge as we get later into the Fall, especially on corn that had not reached maturity. Most of the corn being harvested in South Central Minnesota in the past week has been at 24-28 percent moisture, meaning a significant 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 late October and early November, the field moisture content of the corn is only likely to drop by ¼ to ½ percent per day under favorable conditions, and lesser amounts in cool, cloudy weather.

Farm operators are reminded to keep farm safety in mind as they progress through this long harvest season. The incidence of farm accidents increase as day length gets shorter, especially during less than ideal harvest conditions. The non-farm public also needs to be alert during harvest season when traveling on rural highways and roads. Farm machinery and grain trucks move at much slower speeds that normal vehicles and do not have the ability to make rapid stops.


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) Web Site — http://www.minnstarbank.com/


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