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Beans nearly finished, farmers working on corn harvest

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 10/30/2013 4:19 PM

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DECORAH, Iowa —Northeast Iowa corn harvest is just starting to pick up, says Brian Lang, Extension field agronomist based in Decorah.

"About 10 percent of the corn has been harvested," Lang said Friday. "About 70 percent of the soybeans have been harvested and it's going strong."

Of the little corn that has been combined, Lang has heard of yields ranging from 110 to 240 bushels with 170 bushels a more common yield.

"There's a wide range on bean yields, 30 to 70 bushels per acre with quite a few reports around the 50s," Lang said. "That's pretty good. Most years we end up with county averages of 45 bushels per acre. I hear that famous phrase, 'Better than expected,' quite a bit."

While the area had a light frost that nipped leaf material there had been no killing frost as of last week, Lang said. It is past the average first frost date for a killing frost which has been helpful in getting late planted crops closer to maturity. The latest occurring 'first frost date' ever in northeast Iowa at Decorah was Oct. 30, 1973.

"The very warm weather the end of August and in September and the warm weather in October helped us to catch up on growing degree days," Lang said. "Of course, late in the fall is not the same as during the prime growing season."

Mark Johnson, Extension field agronomist in north central Iowa, said harvest progress is different in each of the nine counties he serves. The southwest part is winding down on soybeans and the corn is going strong. In the far northern part, beans are going good with little corn done.

"As expected, yields for both are all over the map, often within the same pass of the combine, but certainly from field to field," Johnson said in the Oct. 15 issue of his Integrated Agronomics newsletter. "Many fields have areas significantly higher or lower than the field average."

Johnson said there has been good drying weather to date, but the time for that is running out.

"Don't expect more than a quarter to half point of moisture drop per day in the type of weather forecasted for the near term," Johnson said. "If it becomes even cooler, expect that to drop to about quarter point per day."

Jake Pelham, of J&J Ag Solutions and Joe Dier Seed, a DuPont Pioneer dealer at Grundy Center, said Oct. 16 that 90 percent of the soybeans have been combined in his area. Corn harvest is just getting started.

"I've heard a big range in bean yields," Pelham said. "In our show plot, we saw yields from 46 to 67 bushels per acre. There are a couple of growers down the road and all their acres are within two miles and their yields ranged from 53 to 72 bushels per acre. I've noticed the spottiness of the rain over the course of the year really determined yield in a lot of fields."

Pelham said that the same varieties on similar soils and with similar management a mile apart showed 10 bushels difference in yield.

"Considering the year, I think overall guys are satisfied," Pelham said.

In northwest and west central Iowa, soybean harvest is 90 percent or more completed, said Joel DeJong, Extension field agronomist based in LeMars. Yields are averaging in the 60-plus bushel range for most in the area.

"Most are pleasantly surprised by the yield levels they are getting," DeJong said. "As I travel east in my area, the yields seem to drop some."

Corn is about 10 percent harvested, maybe a shade more.

"Most still find high moisture levels in the corn, so they aren't pushing too hard yet," DeJong said. "Yield reports I have heard range from 175 to 235 bushels with lots in the 180 to 210 range. My area is enjoying pretty good yields. There are neighborhoods lower, due to tornado damage, missing rainfall in August, and maybe other reasons, but most of this area is pretty good."

Steve Johnson, Extension farm management field specialist, said harvest prices determined in October will have a large impact on the size of the potential crop insurance indemnity payments.

"Current futures prices suggest that crop insurance revenue policies on corn will make indemnity payments on some farms, particularly those that purchased revenue policies at high coverage levels and are experiencing yields below their Actual Production History," Johnson wrote in an Oct. 14 post on the Ag Decision Maker Blog. "In Iowa, there's a better chance for insurance indemnity payments on corn than there is for soybeans this fall. It would likely take a significant drop in soybean yields to likely trigger such a payment."

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