Harvest soybeans at about 13% moisture for best yields, say University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension experts. Research from Extension showed that yield loss from soybean harvest was least when beans were above 12% moisture. While it’s impossible to harvest all soybean fields at 13%, UNL Extension offers these tips for optimal soybean harvest.
1. When harvesting tough or green stems, make combine adjustments and operate at slower speeds. Harvest at a slow pace and make combine adjustments to match conditions several times a day as conditions change.
2. Begin harvesting at 14% or 15% moisture. What appears to be wet from the road may be dry enough to harvest. Try harvesting when some of the leaves are still dry on the plant; the beans may be drier than you think. Soybeans are fully mature when 95% of the pods are at their mature tan color.
3. Harvest under optimum conditions. Moisture content can increase by several points with an overnight dew or it can decrease by several points during a day with low humidity and windy conditions. Avoid harvesting when beans are driest, such as on hot afternoons, to maintain moisture and reduce shattering losses.
4. Avoid harvest losses from shattering. Four to five beans on the ground per square foot can add up to one bushel per acre loss. If you are putting beans in a bin equipped for drying grain, start harvesting at 16% to 18% moisture and aerate down to 13%.
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