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Mikkel Pates, Forum Communications Co., Published October 27 2011

Farmers making progress on harvest

FARGO – Combines in the region are flying through the fields, largely unfettered by weather delays.

Here are harvest reports from various elevators and input providers as of Oct. 19, focusing on northwest Minnesota reports, roughly from north to south.

Wrapping up

ROSEAU, Minn. – Mike Rudebusch, location manager for Cenex Harvest States in Roseau, Minn., says the harvest largely is done in his area, with the exception of a few acres of sunflowers left.

Soybean harvest went roughly from Oct. 3 to Oct. 14.

“It worked great … beautiful weather,” Rudebusch says.

Beans yielded in the 30- to 35-bushel-per-acre range. There was little frost damage.

There isn’t a lot of corn in the area, but what was harvested came off dry, at about 15 percent moisture.

Wheat this year came in at 55 bushels per acre and had “great” quality, Rudebusch says.

Fall work is going well, with anhydrous going on. “It’s a little on the dry side. We haven’t had a lot of rain since mid-July,” he says.

Running smoothly

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Kyle Schafer, sales manager for CHS Ag Services here, says soybean harvest largely is done, with most yields ranging from 35 to 45 bushels per acre.

“If you had later-maturing varieties, you may have been smacked a little with frost, but not many grow late-season varieties in our area, for that reason,” he says.

Schafer estimated corn was 80 to 90 percent harvested. Yields are from 120 to 150 bushels, which is a respectable crop in that area, with good test weight.

Sugar beets were about 75 percent harvested in his area, he says. That harvest is going extremely well, and he’s heard reports in the 20- to 25-ton-per-acre range.

Edible beans have been harvested for some time. Wheat was a good crop in the area, even though it was down from the outstanding crops of the past two years.

“We had 90-bushel wheat the last couple of years, and this year we’re at 60 to 70 bushels” per acre, Schafer says. “We had straw for 90-bushel wheat, and they had to manage that more.”

There seemed to be more problems this year with weed resistance or tolerance to glyphosate.

“We have to educate more so they mix it up and use pre-plants,” Schafer says. “For the past year or two, they’ve been telling us we’re going to have a problem, and now we do have it. People don’t seem to want to do anything about it until it hits them in the pocketbook.”

Looking ahead, farmers are “right in line” on fall land preparation – maybe a bit behind because of the heat, when farmers were reluctant to do some applications, but things picked up in the second week of October and have been going strong ever since.

“We need Mother Nature to cooperate for another couple of weeks. If we can just get to deer hunting. Gun season starts Nov. 4 in Minnesota. We’re all about deer hunting. It’s almost a holiday,” he says.

Corn progress varies

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Jason Winter, one of the buyers for Fergus Falls-based New Horizons Ag Services Inc., a part of CHS, says soybean harvest is over in his area, too.

“One guy finished Friday” (Oct. 14), he says. “But it was 99 percent over for a week.”

In general, yields are in the high 30s to the low 40s. We all got hit by the frost, but we didn’t see it affect quality like we first worried about,” Winter says.

Corn progress is a different story – 25, 50, 75 percent harvested – depending on individual areas.

Yields are ranging from 30 bushels an acre in the Hoffman, Minn., area, to up to 200 bushels per acre.

“South and west of us they were just too wet, and they had more violent storms go through, with hail and wind and green snap,” he says.

Those that had the storms may average 100 to 125 bushels per acre, while the crop is better to the north.

“They have a little sandier ground and they didn’t have those violent storms. I’d say they’re averaging 160 to 170 bushels an acre. I’ve heard of some isolated 200-bushel” per-acre yields, he says.

Winter says the earlier frost was a concern at first, but turned out to be good. It pushed everything to maturity fairly quickly, after the warm, dry and windy weather that caused the corn to drop down to 15 percent moisture.

“It’s not necessarily good for the grain elevators,” he says, speculating that untold millions will be saved by farmers, and lost by those in the drying business.

Winter says markets have taken a tumble since the end of August and first part of September. Farmers, in general, have fewer bushels.

“There’s less coming to town,” he says. “Farmers are filling space (at home) and you’re not going to see all the piles you typically would see. The market’s reacting.”

Feeling the frost

AUDUBON, Minn. – Kevin Hamernik, assistant manager of the Audubon (Minn.) Cooperative elevator, says he knows of only one regular client who wasn’t yet finished with soybean harvest.

“The yield ranged from 20 bushels per acre to as high as 65,” bushels per acre, Hamernik says. “We have some heavier, better-yielding soils and some lighter soils that burned up in July.”

The frost didn’t hurt, and most farmers were happy with their 30- to 40-bushel per acre yields.

Corn was 75 to 85 percent harvested, and – barring bad weather – he expected it would be done by Oct. 21. Farmers in the area are trying to do more tile drainage, he says.

No complaints, good quality

WOLVERTON, Minn. – Bean harvest was done about Oct. 8, says Curt Bjertness, manager of C-W Valley Cooperative in Wolverton, Minn. Yields will average about 40 bushels per acre.

“Nobody’s complaining about it,” he says, and the quality has been good.

Corn yields are a mixed bag, with most averaging in the 120 to 125 bushel per acre range. A single field can range from 60 bushels per acre in one part to 160 bushels per acre in another part. That’s all the result of excess water, and probably untimely heat. Quality has been good, with test weights in the 55 pound-per-bushel range.

Sugar beet yields are seeing a wide range of results.

“Early-on, I heard about some six-tonners, but I’ve also heard of some guys in the 20s (tons per acre). I think those are not the norm. Beets have been disappointing for most guys,” he says.

Bjertness estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the crop already may be marketed.

“Right now, guys are sitting pretty tight, hoping for a little better pricing coming up. Maybe at the first of the year we’ll see it.”

More farmers have put up steel bins this year.

“There aren’t any piles on the ground,” he says. “Everything’s tucked away and guys will wait and see.”

Some yields disappointing

RENVILLE, Minn. – Joe Hennen, assistant grain manager at Co-op Country Farmers Elevator in Renville, Minn., says the soybean harvest is all but complete, and largely was finished by Oct. 7 to 10.

Yields were disappointing, with later beans hit by frost running 35 to 40 bushels per acre. Normally, farmers in that area expect 50 to 55 bushels an acre. Quality was good, though, despite worries about getting green beans.

“They came in dry. Halfway through the season they were running 11 percent, and a lot 8 to 9 percent, with some lower. I think the lowest that came in at 6.7 percent moisture. That’s the result of 90-degree weather and 20 mile an hour winds,” Hennen says.

Corn was 75 percent harvested as of Oct. 18, Hennen says.

Test weights were a heavy 56 to 60 pounds per bushel. Moisture was running 13-16 percent, with a low of 11 percent.

“We had some in the mid-20s for moisture,” Hennen says. “But 90 percent of the corn came in at 17 percent or less. Yield-wise, we averaged about 160 to 170 bushels an acre. Our trade area was hit with July 1 wind and hail, and had lot of green snap.” The yield range is 100 to 220 bushels per acre.

Wheat yields were disappointing at 30 to 35 bushels an acre.

“If we handled 300,000 bushels of wheat in a year, that would be a big year,” he says. “This year, we handled half of that. Quality wasn’t too bad – protein was really high, with a lot of it 15 percent or more. The test weight is low, in the mid-50s,” Hennen says.

Weed resistance is becoming more of an issue. Tall waterhemp weeds were coming through on some acres, where Roundup didn’t stop it, Hennen says. On the marketing front, quite a bit of the crop was forward-contracted.

“Once those were filled, there haven’t been a lot of farmers selling. Basis has started to really tighten up. The end-users are looking for product and they’re having a hard time getting their hands on it,” he says.

Mikkel Pates writes for Agweek.