Soybeans were planted late in most cases in 2011, but a decent fall where rains held off until later in the season allowed most people to get soybeans out of the field. In fact, due to a dry stretch, some soybean fields dried down below 10% moisture before some farmers could get to them with the combine.
When beans are shattering against the glass of the cab, being slung by the reel, it's a sign they're probably drier than you want. Nobody particularly likes to take a dock for excessive moisture, but how about selling soybeans that are too dry? Is there a hidden charge that just doesn't appear on the ticket? Is it enough to try to find ways to prevent harvesting beans that dry, from buying or leasing a second combine to soybeans to only harvesting when soybean moisture is somewhat higher than it is during the warmest, driest periods of the day, often mid-afternoon?
A good place to start seeking answers for that question is in the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide, the pocket edition, prepared by the Purdue University Diagnostic Training Clinic. It contains a conversion chart that show how many pounds per bushel of soybeans are in a bushel volume at certain moisture contents.
A typical bushel at 13%, the normal moisture where you're not assessed a dock, weighs 60 pounds per bushel. That's considered the standard weight for a bushel of soybeans. At higher moisture contests, the weight in the bushel volume measure goes up. That's why elevators either asses a dock per bushel, or shrinkage, or both to compensate for extra water they're buying.
What they don't do is pay you when they're buying more dry pounds. For example, at 10% moisture, a bushel measure of beans weighs 58 pounds according to the chart (page 125, 2011 edition).
Suppose you haul in a truckload of beans and the semi typically holds 1,000 bushels at 60 pounds per bushel. If you bring in the semi field to the same volume marks, and the weight is only 58 pounds per bushel, you'll get paid for 58,000 pounds, not 60,000 pounds. The semi holds 2,000 pounds less at the direr content. Since the elevator divides by 60 to find bushels, you're selling 967 bushels instead of 1,000 bushels. At $11 per bushel, that's about $400 less per load, or about $20 per acre less in 50 bushel beans, just because the beans are too dry.Take that into account as you make plans for maximizing profit in 2012.