Mission: Beans in the Bin

October 20, 2009 07:00 PM

Sara Schafer, AgWeb Crops Online Editor
If you still have soybeans in the field, you're not alone. According to the latest USDA crop progress report, only 30 percentage points of U.S. soybeans are harvested, a drastic comparison to the five-year average of 72 percentage points. Read on for some advice on how to get those beans safely in the bin.
Weather the Weather
This year has been full of weather-related challenges, says Robert Hall, South Dakota State University extension agronomist. From wind to rain to snow, the 2009 harvest weather is definitely problematic.
"The major risk is the soybeans will fall off the plants and not get into the bin,” Hall says. "Anytime that you leave the crop in the field longer than necessary, there is increased risk something will happen to them.”
For those farmers who are trying to decide between harvesting soybeans or corn first, Hall says aim for the beans. "Soybeans have the greatest risk,” he says.
But, if high winds occur, corn and soybeans would both be damaged, he notes.
Prioritize fields
Hall says farmers should start out the day by determining what fields would be best to harvest. "Try to get those areas that might pose a problem in the future, such as those fields that don't drain well or might flood.”
Hall says depending on the field layout, you might have to do some fields in pieces.
Maintain Your Machines
Even though farmers running full-steam this time of year, Hall says machinery maintenance cannot be overlooked. 
"When you get a little break, make sure you check your equipment over,” Hall says. "Be on the lookout for potential problems with equipment because of the weather.”
Bring Down the Moisture
Hall says farmers this year have not seen good drying weather. So, many farmers are just focusing on getting the crop in, instead of waiting for dry down in the field.
This means soybeans will need a lot of help in drying out for optimum storage.
"You need to bring moisture down for long-term storage, or there will be some deterioration of seed in the bin,” Hall says. "For long-term storage, farmers need to bring the moisture down to that 12–13% range. If it is anything above that, for a long period of time, they run the risk for some storage losses.”
For More Information
Soybean harvest, storage, and handling tips (courtesy of the University of Minnesota):

You can e-mail Sara Schafer at sschafer@farmjournal.com.

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