Soybean harvest is mostly complete in this region and for the more part, it was a good year. Diseases like frog-eye leaf spot and insects such as loopers may have kept yields a little lower than expected. In spite of this, many farmers were pleased with the harvest.
Yields ranged from about 50 to 70 bu/acre for most full season soybeans.
Farmers start the harvest season with corn. When the soybeans are ready, they leave the corn fields and get the soybeans. Once soybeans are harvested, they return to the corn. Their reason for this is that soybeans do not handle rains and weather as well as the corn. The soybeans are prone to open the pods and drop seeds in bad conditions.
The current financial structure and the current taxing situation allows farmers to make more from soybeans than corn. Many of the rented fields have been in soybeans for two or three years now because of economics. The current restrictions on corn and wheat exports implies that soybeans will be grown on rented and again next year.
Watching a field of good corn or soybeans harvested is a lot of fun. I was able to see several fields while here. You can see a short video of soybean harvest on YouTube. For fun, I included an Argentina song that is supposed to be popular at soccer matches for the World Cup.
The role of the farmer and contractor is similar to what I described in the corn harvest post. The farmer and the contractor agree to a price (whether that is cash or a share of the harvest). The contractor wants to get as many fields harvested as quickly as possible. The farmer wants a good harvest in his fields. The contractor wants to get the same job again next year. Both work with those goals in mind.
Many of the contracting combines seem to be in excellent condition. Tractors that pull the grain carts, may or may not be in great shape. I saw more older tractors pulling grain carts than anywhere else. Normally, only one tractor and grain cart were used per combine. In soybeans, this was not an issue. But in corn, the combines were harvesting faster than they could unload, creating a bottleneck. Of course, that extra grain cart, means and extra tractor and an extra employee. It appears that most contractors have decided that one grain cart per combine is sufficient. This probably explains why most grain heads here are smaller than the ones back in the States. I saw some class 6 combines with 20-ft grain heads.
But, now that harvest is mostly over, I can see that they get it harvested. They may use some different techniques than we, but they get the crop out of the field.
A lot of the grain gets put into silo bags, really opening up the old bottle neck of waiting for trucks.
Sitting in a new Claas Lexion was a lot of fun. Harvesting soybeans at about 65 bu/acre was fun as well.