No one is calling it a bumper crop but farmers are preparing to set the soybean harvest in west-central Minnesota into motion.
Some beans are beginning to trickle into area elevators but the flood comes in October.
Coming off a week that saw extreme heat as well as above-average moisture, soybean fields have gone quickly from green to gold to brown.
“It’s starting to dry up but the beans aren’t ready yet,” Elbow Lake grain manager Al Mashek said Tuesday. “They’ll start in a week if we can duck some of this rain. Some fields won’t be ready for 10 days to two weeks.”
In an August interview, Mashek told The Daily Journal the quality of the 2019 harvest would depend on having a frost-free September. With only five days left in September, it looks like that gamble has paid off.
“I don’t think we will have a high-yield crop but there will be some good fields,” Ashby equity agronomist Taylor Kemper said Wednesday.
Jon Stueve, the new general manager at the Farmers Elevator of Fergus Falls, said the price of a bushel of soybeans Wednesday morning was running from $7.65 to $7.70. He estimated that price is down about 30 cents a bushel from last year at this time.
Soybeans have been a leading cash crop for decades in Minnesota. At one point in August of 2012 a bushel of soybeans brought in $17.38 according to a 45-year historical chart.
The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) offered by the Department of Agriculture through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is providing a financial safety net for farmers and ranchers for the second year in a row. While the great majority of producers have signed up for the program, “farming with the government” is not what they prefer.
“They would rather get a fair market price for their grain,” Stueve said.
Even with tariff restrictions placed on the importing of soybeans by China, the tide of beans rolling into elevators has not been seriously quelled. Kemper estimated that even with market prices off as much as $9 a bushel from where they were seven years ago, the number of acres planted locally for soybeans in 2019 is close for those planted to corn.
The overabundant rainfall which has fallen in the area has pitted some soybean farmers against an uncontrollable enemy called “white mold.”
While some plant varieties are better at resisting white mold than others, Kemper has seen the effects of it in many fields.
Stueve is not surprised to see white mold so abundant this year.
“It’s a common thing in a year like this,” Stueve said. “It knocks them right down in the bad spots.”
To what extent white mold will cut into this year’s soybean crop is yet to be seen.
“They won’t know until they get out there but it will be a bigger problem,” Stueve predicted.
The other big crop in the area this fall is corn. When farmers were facing the uncertainties of what to plant and how much acreage to put in last spring, corn was the best alternative many of them saw for soybeans. Kemper feels the high-yield crop is very promising as harvest approaches.
“We’ve been out picking a few ears and I think the corn looks really good,” Kemper said.