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Soggy start to harvest

Article cover photo
Morey Hill, an ISA district director from Madrid, examines a soybean plant during a light rain Wednesday. Excessive rains across the state have idled the 2019 harvest for many farmers. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

It’s another rainy day on Morey Hill’s central Iowa farm near Madrid. His soybean fields are nearly ready for harvest, but the rain has delayed harvest progress on his farm—and on other farms throughout the state.

“Right now, it’s just a waiting game because of this wet weather that moved in this week,” said Hill, an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) district 5 director. “Everything has come to a screeching halt. Even if the fields were ready, now we have to wait. It’s is going to take time to get these combines rolling."

Iowa’s soybean harvest is still behind schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistic Service’s (NASS) crop report released Sept. 30.

As of Sept. 29, just 3% of Iowa’s soybean crop has been harvested. That’s eight days behind average, the report says. Wet weather this week will continue to push harvest behind.

“This feels a lot like last fall.” Hill said. “It was the same scenario; we were waiting for fields to dry out to get machinery through. Here we are at the start of October and it is harvest 2018 all over again.”

ISA District 3 Director Rick Juchems got his start to soybean harvest last weekend near Plainfield before heavy rains hit Sunday.

His May 16-planted soybeans were ready in a field along the Cedar River. That field averaged about 40 to 42 bushels per acre.

“Beans were very small because of the dry weather at the time of pod fill,” Juchems said.

Several farmers in the area also began harvesting but will have to wait until the showers subside and fields dry to be able to get back in the fields.

ISA District 6 Director Robb Ewoldt did some custom harvesting in the Davenport area late last week. Yields averages 57 bushels per acre, about 10 bushels per acre off the average.

“If you got shorted rain in July it affected the yield this year,” Ewoldt said.

He’s heard of soybean yields ranging from 42 bushels per acre to 70 bushels per acre between Scott County and Clinton County.

It’s yet to be determined how this year’s planting and weather has affected Ewoldt’s soybeans—they’re about two weeks from harvest. His farm received 4.5 inches of rain between Friday and Sunday.

“We’re now in a rain delay for who knows how long,” Ewoldt said.

ISA District 1 Director Brent Swart also continues to wait for his soybean harvest in northwest Iowa to begin.

“In the last 36 hours we’ve had 2.5 inches of rain,” he said Wednesday.

His soybean crop hasn’t quite hit harvest maturity yet, but he expects the crop to be ready within the next week.

“There were a few random fields harvested in the area, but it’s been few and far between,” Swart said.

He expects a shorter crop this year due to planting dates and weather variability.

“Most of the plants evened out height-wise, but there’s big difference in node numbers. It seems like yields will follow similarly, but it’s too early to tell yet,” he said.

The forecast calls for more rain and lower temperatures—low temps in the near 38 degrees—but Swart doesn’t predict frost to be as big of a concern as grain quality if the conditions stay wet.

Hill agreed.

"If the soybeans stay wet and damp for very long and haven’t fully matured, we are going to start worrying about mold and other problems with the bean that is still in the hull,” he said. “The best thing for us right now is to get this weather pattern through, get air moving and get some dry weather to bring the moisture levels down in all of the commodities.”

When the rain stops and it’s fit to harvest, Hill said he’ll be ready.

“We know the weather is our variable and the way this year has been so fickle we have to be patient and be ready to run when the conditions get right.”

ISA Senior Communications Manager Joseph L. Murphy contributed to this story.

Contact Bethany Baratta at

For media inquiries, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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