The fall harvest season started a bit later than normal in 2014, but has been progressing at a fairly nice pace in recent weeks across the region. The month of October has featured normal to above-normal temperatures for much of the month, which has resulted in improved harvest progress. Some areas of southeast Minnesota and adjoining areas of Iowa and Wisconsin received significant rainfall in mid-October, which did cause some delays in harvest progress.
As of October 20, it is estimated that over 90% of the soybeans, as well as 25-35% of the corn, has been harvested in many areas of southwest and south-central Minnesota. Harvest progress has been somewhat slower in southeast Minnesota, which was impacted by recent higher rainfall amounts, as well as by crops that were a bit later maturing. Some areas received a significant frost in mid-September, while other areas did not, which has also impacted harvest progress. In the areas that did not receive a killing frost in September, most crops were allowed to reach full maturity, which will likely add some yield and the quality of the corn and soybeans. Areas affected by the early frost, have reported reduced soybean yields, as well as some quality issues with the corn.
Overall, most reported soybean yields have been highly variable across the southern half of Minnesota. It has not been unusual to hear of yield monitor and weigh wagon yields in some portions of south-central and southwest Minnesota that were well above 60 bushels per acre; however, in areas that were impacted by late planting the excessive June rains, and the early frost, yields of 35-45 bushels per acre were more common. Whole-farm yields, adjusting for drown-out acres, are likely to be in the 40-55 bushels per acre range on many farms in the region, with yields of 30-40 bushels per acre in areas that were hard hit by the adverse weather conditions in 2014.
2014 corn yields across the region are also likely to be highly variable, depending on planting date, the excessive rainfall in June, and the impacts from the mid-September frost. There have been some “whole field” yield reports of over 200 bushels per acre in South Central and Southwest Minnesota; however, “whole field” corn yield figures of 160-180 bushels per acre are much more common in the region. In areas that were more severely impacted by the adverse weather situations, corn yields drop off to the 130-150 bushel per acre range. There will likely continue to be a lot of variation in the 2014 corn harvest across the region from farm-to-farm, depending on planting dates and 2014 weather conditions. Once the 2014 corn harvest is completed, most farm operators in Southern Minnesota will likely end up with whole farm corn yields that range from near average to slightly below average, except in those areas with very late planting dates.
One piece of good news for all producers regarding the 2014 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% 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% 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 25-30% moisture, or higher.
Some of the corn being harvested that was impacted by the early frost has only had a test weight of 52-54 pounds per bushel, which is below the standard test weight of 56 pounds per bushel. This will impact the final yield, and could lead to some grain storage issues in coming months. Corn test weights have been higher in areas that were not impacted by the September frost.